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It was the first of three Capitol Hill hearings Mulligan would testify at. In March, before another committee, he had to address a Senate “Kill Chain” analysis that accused Target of missing multiple opportunities to thwart the attack on its systems. Those included alerts from its own anti-intrusion software in November, weeks before the Justice Department alerted Target to a card fraud problem.
Mulligan said then that the company was asking “hard questions” about what it could have done differently.
“In particular,” he said, “we are focused on what information we had that could have alerted us to the breach earlier, whether we had the right personnel in the right positions and ensuring that decisions related to operational and security matters were sound.”
Mulligan reiterated that the company first identified malware on Dec. 15.
Aiming to spur change
Target declined repeated requests from the Star Tribune to interview Mulligan, but he has told other media outlets that he doesn’t want the CEO job permanently. He also has made it clear that he plans to spur change and improve financial results.
“As an interim CEO, I am not simply keeping the ship afloat,” he said in a Q&A posted last week on Target’s website. “We need to accelerate our growth, and that means we all have to move faster and empower the people around us to do the same.”
Yarbrough, at Edward Jones, called Mulligan’s talk about acceleration a big positive.
“I think the board is probably giving him some leeway,” he said. “It can take six to eight months to bring somebody new in.”
In a note to investors Monday, analysts at Janney Capital Markets called Mulligan a solid “caretaker” and said the retailer needs someone who can reinvigorate “a great, if tarnished brand.”
“Target needs a turnaround specialist,” the analysts wrote. “ Someone who could re-energize a workforce that has been demoralized by bad news, and make tough and quick decisions regarding a variety of strategies that need review at the company.”
Staff writer Patrick Kennedy contributed to this report.
Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683