Tags: Buffett | Berkshire | Political | Spending

WSJ: Buffett's Berkshire Pressed to Disclose Political Spending

WSJ: Buffett's Berkshire Pressed to Disclose Political Spending
(Getty/Jemal-Countess)

By    |   Wednesday, 03 May 2017 09:49 AM

Shareholder advisory firms Glass Lewis & Co. and Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. reportedly are pushing shareholders of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to approve a resolution asking for a twice-yearly report on the company’s political contributions and expenditures.

Berkshire’s board opposes the resolution, arguing that political contributions make up less than 0.1% of Berkshire’s annual expenditures and the parent company doesn’t make any contributions, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Berkshire subsidiaries including BNSF Railway and Berkshire Hathaway Energy do make political contributions, WSJ.com reported. Glass Lewis and ISS say the company’s current disclosures are insufficient and the board’s oversight of political spending is unclear. The vote will be finalized Saturday at the company’s annual meeting in Omaha, Neb.

“Berkshire Hathaway—the parent company—has never made a contribution to any presidential candidate (nor any other political candidate) during my 52 years as CEO,” Buffett told the Journal in an email. “I am sure that some of our subsidiaries—in particular those in heavily regulated industries—make political contributions and employ lobbyists. I do not participate in these decisions and Berkshire parent has never, to my knowledge, used a lobbyist.”

Political-contribution reporting is a common topic for shareholder resolutions, and Glass Lewis said it supported about half of such proposals last year. ISS said its policy is to generally support increased disclosure of political spending, the Journal explained.

Buffett, a longtime Democrat. said he and Berkshire’s vice chairman, Charles Munger, have never solicited political contributions from a Berkshire employee or vendor. “Over the decades, I’ve learned of a couple of our executives that were doing so and have told them to stop,” he said.

Buffett donates his own money—not Berkshire’s—to causes and candidates he supports.

He campaigned for Hillary Clinton and criticized President Donald Trump before November’s presidential election.

Right after the election, Buffett urged Americans to rally around Trump, saying the president-elect "deserves everybody's respect."

"I support any president of the United States. It's very important that the American people coalesce behind the president," Buffett said in an interview with CNN. "That doesn't mean they can't criticize him or they can't disagree with what he's doing maybe. But we need a country unified," Buffett added.

Meanwhile, shareholder resolutions are unlikely to pass at Berkshire, where Buffett, the company’s chairman, controls 32.7% of the voting power. 

Meanwhile, the Omaha World-Herald, owned by Berkshire, points out that Berkshire share price should make for happy shareholders at Saturday's annual meeting.

Berkshire’s share price rose as much as 24 percent on March 1 and finished last week up 15.5 percent from Nov. 4.

“That’s a turnaround from 2015, when the price ended the year down 12.5 percent,” the newspaper reported.

“From annual meeting to annual meeting, Berkshire’s stock price has averaged a 10.5 percent increase over the past decade. That includes 2009, when the stock price was down 20.2 percent near the depths of the Great Recession, and 2013, when the price was up 33.4 percent. By comparison, the Standard & Poor’s index of 500 stocks averaged a 7.4 percent annual gain during the past decade,” the newspaper reported.

Berkshire Hathaway's Class B shares recently traded at $165.38.

(Newsmax wires services contributed to this report).

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Shareholder advisory firms Glass Lewis & Co. and Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. reportedly are pushing shareholders of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to approve a resolution asking for a twice-yearly report on the company's political contributions.
Buffett, Berkshire, Political, Spending
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2017-49-03
Wednesday, 03 May 2017 09:49 AM
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