Struggling hedge fund manager Bill Ackman loses ADP board seat vote badly—wins less than 20 percent

Bill Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management.

Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Bill Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management.

Activist investor Bill Ackman lost his bid Tuesday for ADP board seats after a high-profile proxy fight with the giant payroll processor.

Ackman’s nominees received less than 20 percent of votes from shares outstanding and less than 25 percent of shares voted at the meeting. ADP announced its shareholders voted to re-elect all 10 of its directors, based on a preliminary vote count.

The head of the Pershing Square hedge fund had nominated three directors, including himself, but received none. Two of the largest shareholders, Vanguard and State Street, voted for ADP’s nominees, while BlackRock voted for Ackman.

Shares of ADP, which have a market value of $49 billion, fell 2 percent in premarket trading. The stock is up about 8 percent for the year.

“We are more energized than ever about building on ADP’s strengths to anticipate and deliver on our clients’ Human Capital Management needs,” ADP President and CEO Carlos Rodriguez said in a statement.

Rodriguez and Ackman have been engaged in a heated war of words over the last few months. Ackman has said ADP is “very inefficient,” while Rodriguez has compared the activist investor’s efforts to that of a “spoiled brat” who “doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management has a nearly 2 percent stake in ADP common shares, according to FactSet. Including derivatives, Ackman has an 8.3 percent stake. The hedge fund manager told CNBC Monday that he would still keep a large position in the stock even if he lost the vote.

Pershing Square was down 3.3 percent for the year as of Oct. 31, according to its website. The S&P 500 has risen about 15 percent this year.

— With reporting by CNBC’s Leslie Picker.

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