Monday, June 1, 2009

Target meeting

Target's annual shareholder meeting took place in one of the chain's retail outlets, in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Target claims that its incumbent directors have been re-elected by a comfortable margin. The four incumbents whose positions were contested are: Mary N. Dillon, Richard M. Kovacevich, George W. Tamke, and Solomon D. Trujillo.

In a statement, Target's chairman, Gregg (Three-Gs) Steinhafel said: “Today’s outcome demonstrates the confidence Target shareholders have in our Board’s qualifications, diversity and experience to provide effective and independent oversight and direction to the company, contributing to the creation of one of the most recognized brands in the United States. We remain dedicated to serving the interests of all shareholders by sustaining Target’s competitive advantage, driving continued profitable growth and generating substantial shareholder value over time.”

As to the meeting itself, Joe Nocera provides an entertaining account in Friday's New York Times. Ackman spoke on his own behalf at the meeting, and Nocera reports that Ackman seems to have known he was going to lose. It was a concession speech, aimed at persuading himself and whoever might be open to persuasion that he had been fighting the good fight.

"This is a great day for Target and for shareholders generally,” he said because the fight had been waged. He and his allies had done it because “we never want Target to be referred to as a ‘once-great company.’ ” Yet to show there is no animosity, he referred to the directors he had been seeking to replace as "stellar."

Whatever disappointment he may feel has failed to slow him down. He has a new cause, the bankrupt mall operator General Growth Properties. Of that, more another day.

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