Soros Fund Management pulled 60 percent of its stake in the embattled Herbalife Ltd. supplement company in the third quarter of 2014, according to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The fund manages the money of billionaire investor and noted philanthropist George Soros, who bought into the company in the first half of 2013.
Soros’ firm sold 2.8 million shares of its 4.6 million shares in Herbalife. That leaves it with 1.8 million in the company, worth about $82.6 million as of Sept. 30.
Herbalife’s stock closed out at $38.50 on Friday after a massive 10-day plunge from $55.90 per share. Herbalife’s stock has shrunk 51 percent in 2014. The Cayman Islands-registered company has a market cap of about $3.5 billion.
The company faces accusations of deceiving its own employees, falsifying its worth and of selling dangerous health products. The company is under investigation by the FTC, state agencies and the FBI, but Chief Financial Officer John Desimone is confident the company will be exonerated by the FTC.
Billionaire investor Bill Ackman called Herbalife a “sophisticated pyramid scheme” in late 2012 and put a $1 billion bet down that the company would completely fold. Herbalife sells prospective “distributors” training and products that they then sell on their own to recoup their investment and make money. Ackman claimed that the company makes most of its money through the fees for training paid by their prospective distributors than by selling actual health products. Herbalife’s CEO Michael Johnson called Ackman’s accusation’s “ridiculous” and said he was trying to manipulate Herbalife’s stock.
Soros Fund Management took stakes in the recently public Chinese commerce company Alibaba and Yahoo in the third quarter. The Soros firm joins a number of other high-profile, big-spending firms investing in Alibaba Group, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange on Sept. 19 with a record IPO of $68 per share. It raised nearly $22 billion. The firm now owns $390.9 million in Alibaba stock and $205.9 million worth in Yahoo. The firm pulled portions of its investments with tech firms Citrix and Intel and in biopharmaceutical firm Celgene and Host Hotels.