Billionaire Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management hedge fund shed a third of its staff in 2018, as the firm looked to cut costs and shift strategies.
The cuts are a part of the firm “returning to its roots,” according to a recent investor presentation.
Pershing, a $7.9 billion hedge fund, began 2018 with 56 employees and ended the year with 38, including layoffs, retirements, and departures that will not be filled. The firm’s head count peak was at the end of 2015, when 74 people worked at the hedge fund and assets topped $18.3 billion.
The smaller staff, the presentation said, will lead to a “more focused and investment-centric organization.” In a section titled “Stable Path Ahead,” the presentation said Pershing now has “the right team in place to compound our capital for years without any meaningful headcount changes.”
The firm’s investment team now includes eight people, including Ackman, after Ali Namvar and Brian Welch left the firm in 2018.
The firm had its 2018 gains wiped out by a disastrous December, finishing the year down 0.7%. But Pershing increased assets by $1.5 billion in the first six weeks of 2019 and returned 24.7% through Tuesday. Going forward, Pershing’s growth will come from its performance, not asset gathering, the presentation said.
The manager will move into its Hell’s Kitchen office at 787 11th Avenue in the second quarter of 2019, a year and a half after the firm originally was scheduled to leave its 888 Seventh Avenue office.
A Pershing Square spokesman declined to comment further on the firm’s plans.
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