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Bill Ackman On The Industry, Valeant And Retail

Bill Ackman, the founder of the well-known Pershing Square Capital hedge fund, is making a comeback, or so he hopes. He spoke at this year’s SALT conference, which also had Dan Loeb and Joe Biden as highlighted speakers.

Ackman claims to have “something to prove” after his fund was down more than 30% at one point. Notably, Ackman is referring to having something to prove after his Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: VRX) blunder. He notes that selling Valeant was one of the best things he’s done. Ackman notes that he failed on the judgment of Valeant’s management.

Now, he and Pershing are laser focused, but on what? Ackman does have two new investments, one of which is doing really well. But he might not reveal that stake until he’s already sold it.

Pershing is back to its core, so it says. That is companies that have a stable underlying business, like railroads and real estate.

Speaking of real estate, Ackman notes that the hedge fund industry is like the mall industry, where you collect your 20% carried interest if you aren’t making money. The department store is dead, says Ackman. The future of malls is that they become entertainment venues.