Pershing Square sells its position in Valeant Pharmaceuticals

Pershing Square Capital Management announced Monday that it had sold its final stake in Valeant Pharmaceuticals for a large tax loss.   At one time, the New York-based firm headed by CEO Bill Ackman had been the largest single shareholder in Valeant and one of its most vocal defenders.

While the sale of Pershing’s investment doesn’t affect Valeant’s operations, it comes as the company is just beginning to implement strategic initiatives including asset sales to pay down debt.

In a regulatory filing Tuesday, Valeant said Pershing sold its final stake of 18.1 million common shares for almost US$200 million and unwound 9.12 million options that were set to expire in 2019.

Ackman and vice-chairman Steve Fraidin will remain on the company’s board until their replacements are elected at the May 2 annual meeting.

Valeant CEO Joseph Papa, who was hired after Ackman’s involvement, issued a statement late Monday that thanked him and Fraidin for their support.

“We are fortunate to have the benefit of a talented and experienced group of directors who share our strategic vision, believe in our prospects, and are dedicated to turning the company around for the benefit of all shareholders and stakeholders,” Papa said.