Hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman, wife buy 4.9% stake in Tel Aviv Stock Exchange

Hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman and his wife Neri Oxman have bought a 4.9 per cent stake in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), the exchange announced in a press release Wednesday.

The announcement came as the Israeli stock exchange unveiled the pricing of a secondary offering of 17,156,677 shares, or 18.5 per cent of its market value, priced at 20.60 shekels ($5.50) a share, putting Ackman and Oxman’s purchase at $17.3 million.

“The transaction drew robust interest from investors across Israel, the United States, Europe, and Australia, reflecting a strong vote of confidence in both the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and the Israeli economy at large,” the TASE statement read.

The couple were the only buyers named by the TASE. The transaction marks one of the most significant investments in Israel since its aggression against Gaza in October. Despite a flailing economy according to economists and international rating agencies, Israel is mobilising against what they see as an existential threat to continue one of the bloodiest wars, with more than 25,000 Palestinians been killed, 70 per cent of them women and children.

Who is Bill Ackman?

Ackman is founder of New York-based hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management and is known for his activist campaigns at big companies, including dietary supplements company Herbalife, department store JCPenney and Canadian Pacific Railway. In 2023, his main fund gained 27 per cent, making $3.5 billion for investors.

Since the Israeli aggression began, he has deployed his activist tactics outside his usual realm, waging campaigns against several major U.S. universities — including his alma mater Harvard. He claimed that these universities have not done enough to combat antisemitism.

Having 1.1 million followers on social media platform X, Ackman publicly called for the resignations of the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT following criticism of their performance at a congressional hearing about antisemitism on university campuses late 2023.

The U.S. billionaire led a smear campaign on X against Harvard president Claudine Gay, claiming that the university’s leadership had not done enough to support Jewish students. Gay resigned on January 2, in part over allegations of plagiarism. The president of the University of Pennsylvania has also stepped down since last year’s congressional hearing.

Ackman also launched a vicious campaign against Business Insider and its German parent company Axel Springer after the news portal published plagiarism allegations against his wife Oxman, an academic, on January 4.  An internal investigation by Axel Springer found Business Insider’s reporting of plagiarism allegations against Oxman accurate and “well documented” and said it stood by the publication. As a result, Ackman has threatened legal action against the title and its owner.

Leave a comment