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Target Corp. appears to have prevailed in a contentious proxy battle waged by the activist investor William Ackman.

The Minneapolis retailer said shareholders re-elected its four incumbent directors "by a comfortable margin," according to a preliminary vote count at its annual meeting Thursday.

Ackman had argued that Target's board lacked specific expertise, and he had nominated five alternate candidates for the board, including himself and Richard Vague, a veteran of the credit card industry.

Ackman, the founder and manager of the hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management LP, has long pressured Target to sell its credit card portfolio.

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