Matt Krantz and Jayne O'Donnell, USA TODAY
KSDK - Bill Ackman's plan to reshape J.C. Penney has hit another snag: He's selling.
Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management is preparing to sell the 39.1 million shares of the retailer it owned, ending the hedge fund's efforts to create profitable change at the chain. The sale was disclosed in an offering notice filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The sale ends a contentious relationship between Ackman and J.C. Penney as the department-store retailer attempted to remake itself in a world dominated by trendy brands and specialty apparel retailers.
Efforts thus far, including the hiring of former Apple retail head Ron Johnson has largely failed as consumers were turned off by the company's changes, especially the dramatic reduction of sales.
Retail expert Faith Hope Consolo says there's still hope for Penney's - but she's not surprised Ackman is selling.
"In such a volatile market, it's probably a smart move," says Consolo, chairman of the retail group at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. "The smartest people in retail are divesting themselves of a lot of stock. Everyone wants to protect their downside."
The departure of Ackman is a major change in the ownership structure of the company. Pershing Square Capital had been the top single investor in the firm, holding nearly 18% of the shares outstanding, says S&P Capital IQ.
After the sale, the largest owner will become Perry Capital is 16 million shares, or 7.3% of the shares outstanding.