Different Views of Ackman's Town Hall

Activist investor William Ackman held a town hall meeting yesterday where he continued to lay out his view on what Target needs to do to succeed and made his pitch to get four seats on Target's board.

Reuters has a pretty straightforward recap of the event. The Wall Street Journal commented that despite Ackman's efforts to focus the attention on his four nominees (besides himself), most of the questions were aimed at him. Bill George, a former Target board member, wrote at The Deal that Ackman has chosen the wrong target in this fight and that Ackman is going after Target's three greatest strengths: governance, integrated merchandising, and value creation. Business Insider, meanwhile, says that Ackman's Target campaign makes them feel dumb. I've quoted those thoughts below.

Ok, we'll hold off on the debate, and we really don't care much whether Ackman wins a place on the board.

But every time Ackman gets a media wave, we always come back to the same thought: Wait, this guy raised an entire fund just so that investors could buy a leveraged stake in one stock? Really?

It just boggles the mind. Why are people paying him fees, limiting their redemption abilities and handing over transaction timing to someone else for one single stock? It makes us feel stupid for not getting something.

What's amazing, too, is that when he raised the fund, investors didn't even know what stock he'd put them in.


So are we dumb (don't answer that) or are Ackman's investors dumb? Or is there something we're just totally missing here.

CNBC preview the meeting yesterday morning. Here was their take:

Ackman initially laid out his scheme in October and updated it in November. Shortly after that, Target officially rejected the plan. Then in March of this year, Ackman launched his bid to get a seat on Target's board.

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