Riskmetrics, a risk management and corporate governance group, handed an important, if limited victory, to Bill Ackman and his Pershing Square group in his battle against Target Corp., by supporting Ackman and one of his nominees, Jim Donald, for two seats on the Target Board, Donald has high-level experience as a retailer with Walmart, Pathmark, and Safeway, and as the former CEO of Starbucks.
Riskmetrics hinted that it might prefer some of Target's candidates to Ackman'.s It wasn't about to support those candidates because Target is not in favor of a "universal"&... proxy card that would allow shareholders to choose "one from column A, one from column B, Chinese menu style. Pershing is in favor of this kind of proxy card, which we believe will eventually become standard practice. Riskmetrics also opposes Target's move to essentially cancel a board seat, following the retirement of its former chairman, rather than open it to outsiders.
Put another way, Riskmetrics is condemning Target's antiquated board practices. It's not so much matter of Riskmetrics' being "pro-Pershing" as "anti-Target." Ackman didn't get everything that he wanted (endorsements of all five candidates), but Riskmetrics' announcement gives him tremendous legitimacy.
Disclosure: Long Target shares. voted for Bill Ackman's candidates.