Ackman details 2020 performance, names female investment team member

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William Ackman, founder and CEO of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management, speaks during the Sohn Investment Conference in New York, May 4, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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BOSTON, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Activist hedge fund manager William Ackman, whose bets on companies are closely watched, updated investors on how his flagship fund earned a record 70.2% return in 2020 on Thursday in a socially distanced way by sending out a 57-page presentation.

Normally this would be one of the rare occasions where investors could pepper the billionaire investor and his partners in person with questions about markets and individual companies over dinner in New York.

Ackman has plenty to celebrate after his Pershing Square Capital Management put up a second straight year of record returns in 2020. In 2019 the fund returned 58.1%. And 2021 is off to a strong start with an 8.1% return.

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Because of the COVID-19 pandemic however, Ackman and his team continue to work remotely, something they started over a year ago, and there will be no public champagne cork popping or dinner tonight.

It was only in 2018, over dinner, that Ackman told investors that he would stop jetting around the world to meet with investors throughout the year. He was going to focus more on researching new ideas instead of acting as his firm's chief marketer. For investors, the shift has paid off, and Ackman called 2020 and "outstanding year" in the presentation.

He did not give any clues on how his blank check company Pershing Square Tontine Holdings is faring in finding a target.

Several months after announcing plans to hire a woman to his all-male investment team, Ackman said Manning Feng will join Pershing Square later this year. She previously worked as a private equity associate at Warburg Pincus and as analyst at Centerview Partners.

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Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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