Ackman Jumps JCP Ship, Puts Shares Up for Sale

J.C. PenneyNEW YORK-Pershing Square Capital Management, the investment firm run by activist investor Bill Ackman, has put its shares of J.C. Penney stock up for sale.

The shares, which number 39,075,771, constitute 17.7 percent of the retailer’s outstanding stock, the largest percentage held by any shareholder. The company is pricing them at $12.90 per share, and the offering is expected to close on Aug. 30.

Four weeks ago, Ackman, then a member of the board, sent a letter to other board members calling for J.C. Penney to speed up its search for a permanent CEO to succeed Myron Ullman, who in turn succeeded Ron Johnson in April. When Chairman Thomas Engibous released a reply underlining the board’s support for Ullman, Ackman issued a second letter calling for Engibous’ ouster along with repeating the need for an accelerated CEO search.

On Aug. 13, J.C. Penney announced that Ackman had resigned from the board. In this statement, the retailer said the board had re-expressed its “overwhelming support” for both Engibous and Ullman.

Last week, J.C. Penney reported a net loss of $586 million in its fiscal second quarter, which ended on Aug. 3. Both its total net sales and same-store sales fell 11.9 percent in the quarter.