On the eve of Target Corp.'s annual shareholders meeting, a trustee of a pension fund with 1 million shares of company stock called for the retailer to change its policy on political contributions.
Well, boy howdy -- that's an investor with a million shares of stock! Must be hugely influential, right? Let Strib business writer Jim Spencer explain the identity of this key corporate player:
Bill de Blasio, who sits on the board of the New York City Employees Retirement System (NYCERS), also asked that the fund vote against any Target director who refuses to voluntarily stop contributions, such as the $150,000 donation Target made in 2010 to a political action committee supporting Minnesota Republican governor candidate Tom Emmer.And Mr. de Blasio is very concerned about Target's behavior:
"I write to express deep concern regarding the City's investment in Target Corp.," De Blasio said in a letter to New York City Comptroller John Liu dated Tuesday. "The company's experience in political spending, and the lack of effective reforms taken by the company after the controversy ...make the company a leading candidate to receive a shareholder resolution regard [sic] political spending. ...
"I ask that you consider withholding votes from relevant Target Corp. directors, in the absence of a change in policy on political spending."
Well, that's a call to action. Clearly the gang at 1000 Nicollet Mall must comply with this serious demand -- after all, we're talking about an institutional shareholder with a million shares of stock, right?
Don't get me wrong, I wish I personally owned a million shares of Target stock, but how much of the company's total shares outstanding does that total represent?
Not so much. Turns out that the current number of shares outstanding is 689.14 million. In other words, NYCERS owns approximately 0.14% of Target's stock. If NYCERS divested their entire holdings of Target stock tomorrow, Target wouldn't even notice, nor would the market overall. Nearly five times that many shares of Target stock have already been traded today as of 12:30 p.m. CDT -- the link is live and will change, but 0.68% of outstanding shares have traded today.
So if the NYCERS holdings don't mean much in the greater scheme of things, why are Mr. de Blasio's deep thoughts a headline in the Star Tribune business section? I suppose you could ask Jim Spencer, or his editor. But Benjamin Disraeli supplied the answer a long time ago.