Bill Ackman was so sure that his presentation on Herbalife Ltd. in July 2014 would reveal the company to be an illegal operation and crush its shares that he scoffed at preparing for the alternative.
“The stock is not going up — it’s a certainty,” Ackman says to an adviser about half an hour into a documentary on his three-year saga to take down the nutritional-supplement company. “The question is if it opens again.”
Ackman was wrong, of course. Herbalife shares surged after the billionaire’s presentation failed to scare off investors. This is a scene from “Betting on Zero,” which lays out the twists and turns of the battle between Ackman and Herbalife — the multilevel-marketing company that he targeted with a $1 billion short bet and vowed to shut down. The hedge fund manager says it’s a global pyramid scheme that swindles people. Herbalife has aggressively denied that, saying it provides good nutrition and an economic opportunity to millions.
The film, which premieres on Thursday night at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, casts fresh scrutiny on Herbalife and its business practices. There are no major new revelations or allegations, but it turns the story into digestible viewing for a mainstream audience. The movie, which was previewed by Bloomberg News, is the brainchild of director Ted Braun, whose other feature film is “Darfur Now” — a documentary about the bloodshed in Sudan.
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