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Within Fortune senior editor Roger Parloff’s canonical feature about hedge fund manager Bill Ackman’s audacious, indefatigable attack on Herbalife—an at times seemingly pyramid-scheming nutrition company—the following quote rings out: “Who the hell does he think he is?”
This question—furiously spat by Michael O. Johnson, Herbalife’s CEO and an ex-Disney
exec—has an easy literal answer. Ackman, the target of Johnson’s acerbic query, is the business’ arch-nemesis. He is the swashbuckling investor who ‘sold short’ about a billion dollars worth of Herbalife stock in mid-2012 before announcing his position that December. His role embodies the archetypal bane of CEOs spanning corporate America: the activist investor. And he will not back down without a fight. A bitter one.
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