US discount retailer Target Corp. claimed victory in its long-running and acrimonious proxy battle yesterday (28 May) after shareholders voted in the company’s nominees to the board.

Target said its four nominees had been elected to the company’s board by a “comfortable margin” based on a preliminary vote count.

The final results will be published in four weeks but the verdict seems to mean defeat for activist investor Bill Ackman, who campaigned to win seats on Target’s board for himself and a slate of his own nominees.

Ackman had been pushing for board representation in a bid to change the strategy of the company, which he believed was under-performing.

Target chairman., president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel thanks the company’s shareholders for their “overwhelming support”.

“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,” Steinhafel said.

“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.”

Last week, Target posted a 13% drop in first-quarter profits but beat analysts’ estimates as a result of cost-control measures.