2 Yrs After Board Fight, Ackman Sells Target Shares

During the first quarter of this year, major Target shareholder William Ackman-who runs hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management, LP-sold all of his 7.4 million shares in the company.

Two years after Target Corporation shareholders rejected his proposal to shake up the company's board, hedge fund manager William Ackman has sold all shares owned by his company.

New York-based Pershing Square Capital Management, LP, sold 7.4 million shares-reducing its holdings to zero-sometime during the first quarter of this year, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Minneapolis-based Target now has roughly 690 million outstanding shares.

In March 2009, Ackman stated his intention to nominate himself and four other new directors to Target's board.He argued to shareholders that Target's then-directors lacked the industry experience required to address the company's three main segments: retail, credit cards, and real estate.

He wrote to shareholders and hosted a town hall-style meeting in an attempt to pitch his proxy contest and was very vocal in promoting his position. But Target's then-incumbent directors still garnered more than 70 percent of shareholder votes at an annual shareholder meeting in June 2009.

Ackman's funds at one time owned at least 7.5 percent of Target's stock; Bloomberg reported that the figure was 9.5 percent.

Citing LionShares, which provides company research and investor information, The Wall Street Journal reported that Ackman began buying Target shares at about $63.60 in 2007. Midmorning on Tuesday, the company's shares were trading at about $50.62.

In 2009, Ackman apologized to hedge fund clients who had money in Pershing Square, which lost $1.8 billion on its Target investment. He also dedicated $25 million of his personal money to the fund.

Retail giant Target is Minnesota's second-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $67.4 billion in the fiscal year that ended in January.