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Check Out Line: Ackman pledges to keep Target

May 26, 2009

DEALS/Lest anybody accuse Pershing Square Capital Management of running a proxy battle at Target Corp for a quick return, its head William Ackman pledged to keep his stake in the retailer for the greater of five years or the duration of his tenure on Target’s board, if he gets elected.

“As a commitment to Target shareholders and to reflect my confidence in the long-term value of the company, if I am elected to Target’s board of directors I pledge to keep that stake invested in Target,” Ackman said in a statement on Tuesday.

The outspoken hedge fund manager will square off against Target later this week at the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting in Wisconsin. Pershing owns a 7.8 percent stake in Target and is seeking a board seat for himself and four other nominees.

Target is running a slate of four incumbent directors. The battle has grown increasingly contentious, with the two sides appearing unwilling to reach a compromise.  

In addition to a fund worth over $55 million exclusively invested in Target, Ackman said Pershing has other funds that own an additional 24.8 million shares of Target.

“I expect these other Pershing Square funds will also be long-term owners of Target subject to investment concentration limits and other factors,” added Ackman, who discussed his views on CNBC Tuesday morning and sent a lengthy letter over the weekend to the editor of Barron’s disputing a feature story the paper ran that called Ackman’s campaign “a misguided attack“.  

Ackman said the Barron’s story does readers “a disservice for it fails to accurately characterize what our proxy contest at Target is about, and is riddled with numerous materially false and misleading statements.”

A spokeswoman for Dow Jones, owner of Barron’s, could not comment immediately on Ackman’s letter.

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