Loeb Says Spirituality Good for Business, Not Just for Monks

Feb 20, 2014 6:31 pm ET

(Updates with Loeb comments in fifth paragraph.)

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Daniel Loeb, the billionaire founder of activist hedge-fund firm Third Point LLC, said spirituality is good for business.

“Meditation, contemplation -- it’s not just for monks and hermits,” Loeb, 52, said today at an American Enterprise Institute panel discussion in Washington with speakers including Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. “They’re really for people to improve all our lives and business.”

Loeb, whose New York-based firm Third Point returned about 26 percent last year, makes investments that often rely on forcing management and boards to make changes that boost shares and returns, including sending letters to executives bemoaning perceived corporate failures. Last year he targeted Dow Chemical Co., Sony Corp. and Sotheby’s. In his efforts to influence the auction house, he compared Sotheby’s to “an old Master paining in need of restoration” and called on its chief executive officer to resign.

Loeb, a panelist at the AEI discussion on “Moral Free Enterprise-Economic Perspectives in Business and Politics,” described three types of decisions. They are foundational ones, which rely on honesty; choices that use a framework; and trading decisions, some of which can fall into patterns and others that are in uncharted territory.

“When we make choices they come not just from what’s going to create a favorable outcome but, as the Dalai Lama said, to make sure we make decisions that do no harm that are consistent with a moral framework,” Loeb said.

Loeb isn’t the only high-profile investment manager to meditate. Billionaire Ray Dalio, who runs Bridgewater Associates LP, said he started the practice 42 years after being inspired by the Beatles.

--Editors: Pierre Paulden, Dan Kraut