Billionaire investor and hedge fund Manager Bill Ackman of Pershing Square has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. Allergan, Inc. (NYSE:AGN) has filed a lawsuit against him accusing him of insider trading. Andrew Ross Sorkin and CNBC’s Squawk Box team discussed Sorkin’s own column in the Monday edition of the New York Times. Sorkin had written that Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX)’s deal with Ackman may be too clever to be legal.
‘‘How is it possible that the CEO of Valeant calls you, you go buy shares, and somehow that’s all legit?’’ asked Sorkin. Joe Kernen was quite voluble in his agreement. “It is legal technically. However, my point is that it stinks,” he noted. Becky Quick pointed out that in his defense, Ackman and Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) had a whole array of lawyers looking into the legitimacy of the transaction. Robert S. Khuzami, former head of enforcement at the SEC, is one of the most notable among them.
Sorkin stated that the SEC may have to change the rules in light of the recent developments in the Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) – Allergan, Inc. (NYSE:AGN) case. Quick seemed to be in agreement and felt that this might set a bad trend with others following suit. This might be easier said than done as it was unclear if the SEC had the authority to change the law and they ‘might need a Congressman to enact the law to make this work’, said Sorkin.
The lawsuit in question was filed by Botox manufacturer Allergan, Inc. (NYSE:AGN) claiming that Bill Ackman was allegedly in cahoots with another pharmaceutical major Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) involving a hostile takeover plan of the former. It is also important to point out the fact that Ackman’s Pershing Square is Allergan’s largest investor.