Jewish Tycoons William Ackman and Dan Loeb in Feud Over Herbalife

Friends Fall Out Over Opposing Bets on Nutrition Giant

Cash Feud: Investor William Ackman fell out with fellow Jewish money man Dan Loeb over their opposing positions on nutrition giant Herbalife.
getty images
Cash Feud: Investor William Ackman fell out with fellow Jewish money man Dan Loeb over their opposing positions on nutrition giant Herbalife.

By Maya Shwayder

Published November 19, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

In 2012, Ackman joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in “The Giving Pledge,” an initiative in which millionaires and billionaires pledge to give away to majority of their wealth to charity.

Loeb is a West Coast Jew who grew up in Santa Monica with “a soft spot for the Caribbean,” as he told the Jewish Enrichment Center in a 2009 talk. In that same talk, Loeb told the assembled audience of young Jews, new to the investment world, that investors also need to be “a little bit of a philosopher,” and citing his ancestors’ Holocaust stories, how one’s life experience needs to shape one’s business practices. “I think the fact that you’re interested in Judaism, in the Jewish community, and in Jewish philosophy,…[these] will help you in your journey, in life and in investing,” Loeb said.

According to New York Magazine, Loeb meets regularly with his rabbi. “Money isn’t everything,” Loeb told the reporter at the time. In fact, in 2009, when the Harlem Children Zone lost its funding when Lehman Brothers collapsed, Loeb decided to hold his hedge fund holiday party at the Harlem Children’s Zone to help bolster their ailing finances. “Community is important,” Loeb said about that decision. When New York State legalized same-sex marriage in 2011, Loeb was listed as one of the most prominent Jewish philanthropists who gave to marriage equality causes.

Whether Loeb and Ackman were ever actually friends, they were certainly once friendly. An extensive Vanity Fair profile of the two men from April 2013 details a bike trip, now passed into Wall Street lore, that Loeb, Ackman and a few other hedge fund friends took out on Long Island. Ackman, in his over-zealous style, simply took off on his bike with no warm-up and no real experience in long-distance riding. At first he was ahead of the pack, but soon fell behind faltering and in pain.

The origin of the current bet over Herbalife between Ackman and Loeb, detailed in Vanity Fair, stems from a May 2012 conference call on Herbalife’s quarterly earnings. Prior to this, Ackman and hedge fund manager David Einhorn, another former friend of Ackman, had been researching Herbalife’s company structure and earnings, and based on the recommendation of a third party financial research group — the Indago Group, nicknamed the Indago Girls — had begun to suspect that it was nothing more than a pyramid scheme.

According to Vanity Fair, during the earnings conference call, Einhorn began asking tough questions about whether Herbalife’s on-the-ground sales people — similar to the Mary Kay Cosmetics girls — were the bigger purchasers of Herbalife products, or whether the company’s profit was coming from actual costumers. Des Walsh, Herbalife’s president, was unable to directly answer the question, and by the end of the conference call Herbalife’s stock had dropped from $70 per share to $56 per share.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.