June 19 (Reuters) - Willliam Ackman's hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management LP said on Tuesday that Brian Welch, who led research efforts on Automatic Data Processing Inc , one of the firm's recent investments, was leaving the company.
In 2017, Ackman waged and lost a bitter proxy contest at ADP but more recently the stock has helped the hedge fund deliver positive returns for its investors.
Welch's departure comes only months after Ackman told investors that he was shrinking the firm, cutting mainly back-office staff. Over the last years a number of investment staff members including Paul Hilal and William Doyle have left Ackman.
More broadly, at a time where many funds have struggled to deliver strong investment returns, the payout for the staff members have been in question, prompting a number of people to leave prominent hedge funds.
William Ackman's fund has gained more than 9 percent this year while his publicly traded fund is up double digits, marking a dramatic reversal for the billionaire investor after three years of losses.
Pershing Square said its investment in ADP will continue to be overseen by Ackman along with two other analysts after Welch's departure.
Pershing Square bought ADP shares for an average price of $105 in 2017. On Tuesday the shares closed trading at $138.60.
The company said its stake in ADP has generated a total shareholder return of about 35 percent and that it will continue to manage the size of its position in these funds.
"While we have and will continue to manage the size of the position in these funds by selling stock and options in light of its increased size, we expect to continue to be a large, long-term and engaged shareholder (in ADP)," Ackman said in a statement.
Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair