Target’s interest in musical instruments…

Trying to keep up with the near-daily filings by Target (TGT) and Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square is no easy task. In two separate filings, the hedge fund has compared the company’s corporate structure to the “Third World and dictatorships” and described the board’s structure as “suboptimal”. Target, in turn, has described Ackman’s proxy contest ” as a platform to advance his own risky agenda.”

But far more interesting to me than the back-and-forth — there’s a good recap here — are the things that get exposed when there’s this sort of increased scrutiny. Like the Musical Instrument Museum that’s slated to open sometime next year in Phoenix.

The museum’s founder and Chairman is Bob Ulrich, Target’s former Chairman and CEO, who stepped down last year. So far this year, Target’s ties to the museum in terms of money and in-kind services — are disclosed five separate times, up from zero last year, when ground was actually broken. Here’s a snip:

In 2008 we supported the Museum through in-kind (non-cash) support consisting primarily of services provided by our team members. Those services included, but are not limited to, participating in concept refinement; assisting with building design; facilitating third-party partnerships for the Museum; and assisting with marketing strategy…While the extent to which individual team members supported the Museum in fiscal 2008 varied, it was generally consistent with the level of support we provide to our most significant charitable partners. In light of Mr. Ulrich’s intention to devote a significant portion of his time to the Museum’s activities following his retirement from Target, we also arranged and paid for the construction of leasehold improvements within office space leased by the Museum at a cost of approximately $120,000, committed to contribute approximately $70,000 to offset the occupancy cost of such space, and agreed to provide the Museum with the full-time services of a Target team member to provide administrative support for up to 3 years.

Target did briefly mention the museum and Ulrich’s involvement in the proxy it filed in 2007. But it was MIA in last year’s proxy. Of course, that’s just a coincidence, right?

Image source: The Musical Instrument Museum