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Target pulls announcement on share buyback, dividend from website

A shopper leaves a Target store after Target announced that 3,100 positions would be eliminated, in St Louis Park, Minnesota March 10, 2015. REUTERS/Craig Lassig

By Ramkumar Iyer and Nathan Layne

(Reuters) - Target Corp (TGT.N) took down a release from its website on Tuesday that said the company would raise its share buyback program by $5 billion and boost its quarterly dividend by 7.7 percent to 56 cents per share.

A person familiar with the matter said the document was one of several prepared ahead of a board meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening and that it was published inadvertently. The board is due to discuss dividend and buyback policy and has not voted on a plan yet, the person said, describing the document as "contingency planning".

The company in a statement said it had not officially released any information and did not comment further.

Target pulled the statement after it was reported by news media. Reuters took a screenshot of the statement at 3:38 pm ET, shortly before it was taken down.

The statement had said the quarterly dividend, raised from 52 cents per share, was supposed to be payable on Sept. 10. The current share buyback program of $5 billion was being expanded to $10 billion, it said.

Target, the fourth-largest U.S. retailer, said last month it repurchased $562 million worth of its shares in its fiscal fourth quarter ended May 2. It had resumed buybacks after nearly two years.

"We expect to have the capacity to increase our annual dividend — and repurchase billions of dollars of Target shares annually — while maintaining our current credit ratings," Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan had said in the statement.

Target's shares were little changed at $79.12 in after-market trading on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Ramkumar Iyer in Bengaluru and Nathan Layne in Chicago; Editing by Peter Henderson, Sriraj Kalluvila and Leslie Adler)