To be sure, new money has also flowed into Ackman’s firm as he raised $500 million in a special purpose vehicle for the ADP investment earlier this year.
Several investors met with Ackman recently as he jetted around the country on his private plane, making stops in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas, California, Illinois and other states to gather votes for his effort to win board seats at ADP and to tell his own clients that better returns are coming.
Ackman told Reuters recently he will either succeed in the proxy contest to push changes internally at ADP or he will become even more of a thorn in management’s side from outside.
“I don’t think we will lose,” Ackman said, though he expects the vote to be close.
Even if he and his two fellow nominees do not make it onto the board, ADP management will face more pressure to perform in the next year, or possibly face a second proxy fight, Ackman said: “This sets up a dynamic that is extremely favorable to shareholders.”
After unveiling his investment in ADP in August, Ackman launched a public campaign criticizing “stale perspectives” and lack of expertise within the company’s executive suite.
Chief Executive Carlos Rodriguez rejected Ackman’s proposals as unimaginative and called the hedge fund manager a “spoiled brat” on television. In the days leading up to the proxy vote, both sides have been ramping up public criticism. ADP declined to comment for this story.
Ackman, now 51 years old with a personal fortune of about $1.4 billion, denied that the ADP contest is about his own ego or reputation. He characterized his 35 or so activist campaigns as investments that can help workers, markets, and the broader public.
“The vast majority of my actions have been good for America,” Ackman said.