Alternative thinking on Bill Ackman’s Blues, All-Cash in Marijuana, and, "You Went to Harvard?”

March 28, 2016 03:32 PM

"As you would expect, we will fully cooperate with the committee's requests."

Over at FinAlternatives, news breaks that U.S. legislators have asked Pershing Square founder William Ackman for information about drug price hikes in the pharmaceutical industry. The investigation is tied to his large stake in Canadian drug company Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which has been facing more-and-more problems it seems each day.

Ackman's Pershing Square Holdings fund is down 25% so far in 2016, largely due to the sizeable stake in Valeant.

The drug company’s stock is off nearly 70% on the year.

Ackman wrote a letter pledging his cooperation with Congress.


“Investors are acutely aware of the need to diversify their portfolios in the search for yield.”

It’s becoming a damn good time to be in private equity.

The Financial Times explains that institutional investors are set to unleash a wave of capital on the industry; however, concerns about transparency are preventing it from reaching its full potential.

A survey by State Street Research shows that 59% of such investors want more exposure and plan to commit more capital to PE over the next five years.

The CEO of Create Research goes on to explain that private equity is set “deliver returns of around 9%.” That’s roughly twice the return for stocks and three times the return on bonds.

However, a rising number of investors are worried about transparency, which is leading to roughly 28% of institutional investors to decrease their allocation.


“We don’t truly think we’ll see a solution unless there’s a federal solution.”

One could make the case that the bigger story about marijuana investment is the fact that legal weed could be a $1.1 billion industry in Massachusetts alone by 2020. The Deep Blue state could use the tax revenue, and voters are set to decide the legality issue very soon.

But the more intriguing – and very frustrating story about weed – is taking place out in Denver, Colorado, where voters have already approved legal cannabis.

The Albuquerque Journal profiles Tim Cullen, a “Potrenpreneur “ who made millions of dollars last year, but still can’t open a bank account for his business.


Because the U.S. government bans banks and credit unions from taking any money tied to marijuana.

Naturally, this creates massive headaches for Cullen and businesses like his who are also unable to gain access to loans and makes the industry an all-cash business. No credit cards, no debit cards, and – naturally – a serious need for security and cash-hauling operations.

There have been more than 200 burglaries at Denver-based marijuana companies alone since marijuana was legalized in January 2014.

There’s about $5.4 billion on the sidelines from 2015 cannabis sales alone that banks can’t touch. And, if they pass the cash through a shell company, it instantly looks like money laundering…

Here’s more on the problem and why we can expect very little from regulators in the future.

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About the Author

Garrett Baldwin is the Managing Editor of the Alpha Pages and the Features Editor of Modern Trader. An author and Baltimore native, he earned a BS in journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern University, an MA in Economic Policy (Security Studies) from The Johns Hopkins University, an MS in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University.