Pershing Square’s initiation of an action against the United States government for the stripping of profits from Fannie Mae provides the issue of whether Fannie Mae and its sister entities are effectively government agencies or really for-profit corporations.
Those who invested in these companies thought they were buying something that did not exist. If the government cannot regulate the funds of government controlled entities, what can investors expect? At the same time, when investors buy into corporations, they take the risk that the corporation may not be profitable. Here, the investors probably thought that the profitability was a “guarantee” because of the government’s involvement.
“The net worth sweeps make plaintiffs – and all of the other common shareholders – ‘shareholders’ in name only,” according to the complaint, which three retirees who own Fannie Mae stock have joined as plaintiffs.
Pershing accused the government of violating the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by taking private property for public use without just compensation. It seeks damages and other remedies.
The Treasury Department declined to comment. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which is Fannie’s and Freddie’s conservator, did not immediately respond to a similar request.
Pershing’s lawsuit adds to public battles being waged by Ackman, including a bid with Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc for Botox maker Allergan Inc , and a campaign against nutrition company Herbalife Ltd , which he calls a pyramid scheme, a characterization the company denies.