Activist investor Ackman nabs $3B-plus stake in former takeover partner Valeant

Bill Ackman

Billionaire investor Bill Ackman spent quite a large chunk of 2014 talking up Valeant Pharmaceuticals ($VRX) and its business model--and now, he's putting his money where his mouth is.

Almost a year after teaming up with the Canadian pharma on a failed hostile pursuit of Allergan ($AGN), Ackman's hedge fund has picked up a $3.3 billion stake in the drugmaker to become its fifth-largest shareholder, Reuters reported Monday.

As an unnamed source told the news service, the fund plans to take a passive approach to Valeant--meaning it won't pressure the company to change up its management.

That's quite a different side of Ackman than the pharma industry saw last year. His takeover approach for Allergan was aggressive enough to prompt insider trading accusations from those who claimed his pact with Valeant gave him unfair advance notice on a market-moving event. Pershing Square also nabbed a stake in animal health leader Zoetis ($ZTS) late last year--and it's already picked up a seat on the Pfizer ($PFE) spinoff's board, for Ackman colleague William Doyle.

But as Forbes notes, Ackman may just want to get in on the skyrocketing share prices Valeant's been posting since serial acquirer J. Michael Pearson took the helm at the company in 2008. "I look at a chart like this and I say, 'we're kind of late to this party,' Ackman said last April, as quoted by the publication. "But I actually think that the party will go on."

- get more from Reuters
- see Forbes' take

Special Report: The most influential people in biopharma today - J. Michael Pearson, Valeant

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