Protesters disrupt hedge fund conference in midtown Manhattan

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 13, 2015 2:04 PM

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Nadia Damouni

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Roughly 400 hedge fund managers, investors, lawyers and journalists got something that was not on the lunchtime menu at an industry conference on Monday when roughly two dozen protesters interrupted the meal, shouting out prominent names of attendees and demanding better wages at fast-food restaurants.

Shouting "Burger King, Mickey Ds" and holding signs saying "Dignity at Darden, No poverty wages," the protesters trooped through the ballroom at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Manhattan, interrupting the 13D Monitor's Active-Passive Investor Summit at 1 p.m. (EDT).

An unidentified person with the group, which represents the Restaurant Opportunity Center, said they came to protest because speakers at the conference, including Bill Ackman and Jeff Smith, say they want to create value for shareholders even though workers at the companies are still underpaid.

The protesters shouted the names of several big name hedge fund managers including Ackman, whose hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management has invested in Burger King, and Smith, who invested in Darden Restaurants.

The conference attendees, including big name pension funds like the California State Teachers Retirement, sat quietly and took pictures on mobile telephones as the protesters broke out into a chorus of "Pay your workers, shame on you." Some of the hedge fund managers smiled as the protesters passed their seats.

The organizer said the police were called and asked the protesters to disperse. Ackman was not in the building as the protest took place.

Fast food workers have been protesting for some time for higher wages.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Bernard Orr)