Bill Ackman excited about Chipotle's future as CEO search begins

Activist investor Bill Ackman, Chipotle’s (NYSE:CMG) largest shareholder, is excited about the future of the fast casual restaurant chain as it begins its search for a new chief executive, following current CEO Steve Ells' decision to step aside.

“We fully support Steve’s decision. We remain excited as ever about the future of the company,” a Pershing Square spokesman told FOX Business.

Other investors also appear pleased with the news, shares rose over 3% in mid-day trading.

Chipotle announced on Wednesday its chairman and CEO  Ells, who founded the company in 1993, would transition to the role of executive chairman. The move for Ells, who will focus on product innovation, comes after several food scares, e-coli breakouts and a series of bumbled crisis management actions.

Ackman, whose Pershing Capital Square Management owns a 10% stake in Chipotle, has praised Ells, calling him “outstanding,” in May.

Last month, however, the billionaire investor, who invested in the restaurant chain last year, expressed his disappointment in the company and its performance at the time.

“There is not a member of the board of directors; there is not a member of management; there is not a shareholder of the company who isn’t disappointed with the progress of the company so far,” Ackman told Reuters.

Chipotle’s stock has lost 24% this year.