On Christmas Eve last year, Herbalife Chief Executive Officer Michael Johnson’s mobile phone rang as he was walking into church. It wasn’t Santa Claus. It was Carl Icahn, who was in the first stages of building a stake in Herbalife, which had just been called a pyramid scheme by billionaire hedge fund activist Bill Ackman. The stock had plunged, and the sharks were circling. “He was feeling us out. He was kind of poking me,” Johnson says.
“For guys like that, trouble is opportunity.”