Los Angeles Business Journal

Herbalife to Clarify Business Practices

By RYAN FAUGHNDER Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Herbalife Ltd. said Wednesday it will clarify its business practices, responding to criticism from billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman.

Michael Johnson, the downtown L.A. herbal supplements company’s chief executive, said Herbalife will provide more details about its multilevel marketing practices, which Ackman has alleged was a pyramid scheme.

“We realize there is a need for simplifying how we talk about our business in order to help investors and the public recognize our value proposition,” Johnson said.

The company sells its products through a network of independent distributors. The company will disclose how much its distributor network overlaps with its customer base.

Ackman, who holds a short position on the company’s stock and recently submitted a list of 284 questions to the company about its business, told CNBC on Wednesday that the company had not answered his questions.

“If Herbalife really wants investors to understand their business better and provide full transparency as Johnson said on the call, they should start by answering even one of the 284 questions we submitted publicly to them two weeks ago,” Ackman told CNBC.

Ackman rival Carl Icahn, another billionaire investor, has bet big on Herbalife and publicly criticized Ackman for his accusations. Icahn last week disclosed a 13 percent stake in the company.

Herbalife on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter net income of nearly $118 million, or $1.05 a share, 12 percent higher than in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 20 percent to $1.06 billion.

Shares of Herbalife closed down 5 percent on Wednesday to $37.78 on the NYSE.