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Ackman's Pershing Square trims holdings of Beam

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[February 01, 2014]  BOSTON (Reuters)  Hedge fund manager William Ackman sold 7.3 million shares in Beam Inc this week, according to a regulatory filing on Friday, trimming his holdings three weeks after the share price spiked on news of a planned takeover by Japanese whiskey maker Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd

Ackman's $12 billion Pershing Square Capital Management sold 6 million shares of common stock at $83.28 on Thursday and sold 1.3 million shares of common stock at $83.36 on Friday, according to a filing made with the Securities and Exchange Commission late on Friday.

Pershing Square had been the single largest holder in Beam, the liquor unit spun out of Fortune Brands in 2011, owning 20.8 million shares at the end of the third quarter.

The share price spiked 25 percent on January 13 when Suntory offered to pay $13.6 billion in cash for the maker of Jim Beam and Maker's Mark.

After this week's sales, Pershing Square owns 8.3 percent of Beam's outstanding shares, down from 12.7 percent previously.

Ackman saw his 3-1/2 year old investment in Beam pay off big this month when he and his investors earned roughly $375 million in one day after the acquisition news.

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As an activist investor, Ackman invests in no more than one dozen companies at a time and often starts pulling his money out after certain targets are reached. Last year, he began paring his position in Canadian Pacific Railway, a big gainer in his portfolio.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; editing by David Gregorio)

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