How corporate jets fly under shareholder radar

It’s entirely possible that a company could have a jet and not have it be disclosed in the proxy statements,” said Andrew Liazos, a partner at law firm McDermott Will and Emery, who heads the firm’s executive compensation group.

Men’s apparel retailer Jos. A. Bank may be best known for its incessant advertisements of all the merchandise it has on sale. “Could they advertise more? Could they sell less?” quipped Jerry Seinfeld. “We’ll give you three suits for $8! Just take it! Get it out of here!”

So in a twisted kind of way, it’s perfect that the company and its chairman of the board, Robert Wildrick, have recently pulled off a different kind of super sale. In March, competitor Men’s Wearhouse agreed to buy Jos. A. Bank — for $65 a share, about a 55 percent premium to its share price last fall. Wildrick served as the chief executive officer until 2008, and is often given credit for growing the business from a struggling retailer into a national brand. He now has a consulting agreement with the company that pays him $825,000 a year, and has earned over $200,000 a year in his role as chairman.

Seinfeld might be surprised to hear it, but there is a piece of merchandise that Jos. A. Bank doesn’t advertise. According to Federal Aviation Administration records, Jos. A. Bank leases a private plane, and not just any private plane — a high-end Dassault Falcon 2000EX. A reader of Jos. A. Bank’s financial statements would almost certainly not be aware of the existence of the plane.

What’s interesting is that despite all the furor about corporate jets, and the complaints about executive compensation, experts say this situation is not uncommon. “It’s entirely possible that a company could have a jet and not have it be disclosed in the proxy statements,” said Andrew Liazos, a partner at law firm McDermott Will and Emery, who heads the firm’s executive compensation group. Indeed, Jos. A. Bank is a perfect example of how a company can thread the needle of the disclosure rules about jets — without breaking any laws.