Several ways to look at New York hedge funder Bill Ackman’s recent retreat from his Pershing Square Capital Management L.P.’s long and hostile run at downtown-based nutrition products marketer Herbalife … Start by chalking it up as Ackman’s second loss in Southern California in recent years – a joint bid with Valeant Pharmaceuticals on a takeover of Allergan Inc. also came up short. Pershing Square did fine on the immediate effects of that attempt – Ackman had accumulated a significant stake in Allergan before going after the company, and his raid led to a big run up in its shares before an eventual sale for around $70 billion in 2015 to Actavis. Pershing Square also bought into some troubled times at Valeant, though, leading to a loss estimated at around $4 billion … Early estimates on Ackman’s five-year campaign on Herbalife point to a loss in the hundreds of millions for Pershing Square – and the SoCal double-team appears to have played a leading role in the firm’s assets plunging from $20 billion in 2015 to just under $9 billion now … Count Pershing Square’s loss as a win for Carl Icahn, who countered Ackman and accumulated a 26 percent stake in Herbalife, making about $1 billion since he became the company’s biggest investor in 2013 … Put former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa down for a win on Ackman’s withdrawal, too. Ackman’s entire bid centered on a contention that Herbalife was an illegal pyramid scheme – charges that might have stuck to Villaraigosa in his current run for governor, since he was a consultant for the nutrition products marketer from 2013 to 2016, getting into the six figures on fees. The Federal Trade Commission didn’t buy Ackman’s contention, though – it hit Herbalife with a $200 million fine and ordered some changes to its marketing, but found the basic premise of the company to be legal … And don’t forget Herbalife itself. Ackman started the hostilities by shorting the company when its shares were at $47, and he predicted they would go to zero. They reached an all-time high above $95 last week before settling slightly for a market value of a bit more than $7 billion … There’s a less obvious N.Y.-L.A. tie in “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” which just wrapped up a run at Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills and is billed as “coming soon” to Landmark Theatres on the Westside. The 88-minute documentary centers on a recent roller-coaster experience of a bank with about $270 million in assets in New York’s Chinatown, but nevertheless offers plenty for Angelenos to consider in the tale, which offers valuable insights on family-owned businesses, ethnic niches, community development, the banking industry, financial regulators and government prosecutors. A more specific L.A. tie: The film might have an Oscar for Best Documentary to its credit by the time you read this … Whittier Trust is continuing its growth with a new presence in Portland, Ore., to go with its HQ in South Pasadena and offices in Orange County, San Francisco, Reno and Seattle. The family office and wealth management firm first started to grow out of the fortune established by Max Whittier, the fellow who co-developed Beverly Hills and lent his name to its Whittier Drive there. Whittier Trust now has more than $12 billion in assets under advisement, and word among the French-cuff crowd is that the new Portland office is off to a fast start. Whittier Trust isn’t averse to N.Y. ties, by the way. Portfolio managers Caleb Silsby, Sean Kraus and Teague Sanders have all made impressions on the Big Apple as guests on CNBC lately … Another N.Y.-L.A. tie courtesy of the media and Reza Zafari of Merrill Lynch and the Jones Zafari Group in Century City, who got some ink in a recent Forbes cover story on top wealth advisors. Zafari, Richard B. Jones, Rebecca Rothstein, Eric Gray and Bruce Munster combined to give Merrill Lynch five of the top 20 spots on the magazine’s Southern California rankings … Sullivan Says: The recent cold snap helped illustrate that there’s not much better for a midday warmup than the California Club’s curry crab soup, a Wednesday special for the power lunch crowd on Flower Street.
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