Skip to main content

Target activist shareholder to hold town meeting


New York City Target’s activist shareholder William Ackman on Monday hopes to strengthen his case to investors for a new slate of directors by personally introducing his roster at a town hall meeting in Manhattan. The meeting comes less than three weeks before what is likely be a heated proxy contest at Target’s annual shareholders’ meeting.

According to documents filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ackman, who runs Pershing Square Capital Management, which owns a 7.8% stake in the discounter, intends to “improve Target’s board and consequently, help make Target a stronger, more profitable and more valuable company.”

Friday’s filing outlined Ackman’s reasons for why investors should pick his nominees and offered comparisons to the Target’s incumbent nominees.

“We believe that the deficit of relevant experience and the lack of significant shareholder representation on Target’s board has contributed to the company’s material underperformance during this recession,” Ackman noted in Friday’s filing.

Ackman has long been pushing Target to do more with its assets as part of a campaign to boost the company’s stock. But since Target rejected Pershing Square’s real estate proposal to separate the land the retailer owns underneath its stores and distribution centers, Ackman has turned his intentions to shaking up the board.

Since March, he has been pressing his case in a series of regulatory filings to nominate his own slate of five candidates -- including himself -- to Target’s board. That number includes the seat left vacant by the resignation of Robert J. Ulrich, former chairman and chief executive, who resigned from the board on Jan. 31.

Target has fought back by asking its shareholders to vote against Ackman’s picks and support its own board of incumbents. Target has maintained the retailer’s shareholders are best served by re-electing the four current directors whose terms expire at this year’s annual meeting on May 28.

In a letter sent to shareholders last week, Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s chairman, president and CEO, said that Pershing Square has launched the proxy fight because it rejected its real estate proposal, which it called too risky.

“Your board and management team have a strong track record of success and a clear strategy for sustaining Target’s competitive advantage, driving continued profitable growth and creating substantial shareholder value over time,” Steinhafel wrote.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds