The Morning Brief: Herbalife Shares Fall as Icahn Mulls Sale

Two financial titans engaged in a bizarre tussle on Friday over the controversial shares of Herbalife. The stock of the multilevel marketer of nutrition and health products dropped nearly 8 percent earlier in the day, before finishing down more than 2 percent, following a Wall Street Journal report that activist investor Carl Icahn was mulling the sale of his stake in the company. Of course, the stock has been a high-profile, and unprofitable, short of William Ackman’s New York-based Pershing Square Capital Management, which is betting the company is a pyramid scheme. In fact, Ackman on Friday told CNBC that he was offered some of Icahn’s shares by an investment bank hired to peddle the position. Icahn was the largest shareholder of Herbalife at the end of the second quarter, holding 17 million shares. In July. Herbalife reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The stock is now down more than 13 percent from its August 1 high. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, later on Friday Icahn issued a statement asserting: “It amazes me that a guy who hasn’t any knowledge of my internal investment thinking believes he is in a position to go on television to tell the world what I AM thinking!” The paper stressed the Icahn never disputed reports that he was considering a sale of his shares. However, Icahn disclosed on late Friday that he bought an additional 2.3 million shares of Herbalife for $59.31 per share and now owns 20.8 percent of the total. This caused the stock to rise 4 percent in after-hours trading.


Sandell Asset Management is turning up the heat again on Bob Evans Farms. The New York activist publicly published a presentation once again making the case for breaking the company into two separate businesses: Bob Evans Farms Foods and Bob Evans Restaurants. “Sandell believes that the stock price of Bob Evans does not reflect the significant value associated with the company’s growing and highly-profitable packaged foods business, BEF Foods,” it said in its announcement. Sandell calls for a spin off or split off of BEF Foods and a spin off of Bob Evans Restaurants, among other proposals.


Maverick Ventures, the venture capital fund affiliate of Dallas-based Maverick Capital, led the $16 million Series A financing of BlueTalon, which helps companies secure their data. “At a time when many organizations feel overwhelmed by data breaches, cybercrime, and ever-tightening regulations, BlueTalon brings a groundbreaking approach to data security,” says Matthew Kinsella, managing director of Maverick Ventures, in a press release.