What's happening at Buffett's annual meeting

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm •  Published: May 4, 2013
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Dubbed "Woodstock for Capitalists," Saturday's annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders revolves around Warren Buffett, the company's chairman and CEO and a billionaire investor. Here's a rundown of what happened at the day-long event in Omaha, Nebraska:

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BUFFETT'S SUCCESSOR:

Berkshire's board knows who it would pick as CEO if Buffett died tonight, but the top candidates could change over time, Buffett said. He has no plans to retire.

He spends plenty of time thinking about the future of his company after he is gone, he said. He told shareholders Saturday that he's confident that the conglomerate will continue to thrive.

The leaders of Berkshire's roughly 80 subsidiaries and all the operating companies would reject a leader that tried to change the way the company works, he said.

Buffett leads Berkshire with a tiny staff of roughly two dozen at its headquarters, and he largely lets the CEOs of all Berkshire's subsidiaries make all the operating decisions.

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BUFFETT'S BENEVOLENCE:

Warren Buffett has pledged to eventually give away all of the Berkshire Hathaway stock that made him one of the world's richest men, but he doesn't want to spoil his children.

At Saturday's Berkshire shareholder meeting, an estate planning lawyer asked Buffett for advice on how his clients should determine how much is too much to leave their children.

Buffett says the size of an inheritance probably isn't the most important factor in determining what kind of people children grow up to be.

"I think more kids are ruined by the behavior of their parents than by their inheritance," Buffett said.

The 82-year-old Buffett says he has been getting more generous as he ages, so every time he revises his will these days he tends to leave more to his children.

And Buffett says he lets his kids read his will each time it's changed.

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GREENHOUSE GAS PROPOSAL:

Berkshire Hathaway shareholders again rejected a proposal to require the company's utilities to set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Berkshire owns several utilities through its MidAmerican Energy Holdings subsidiary.

Backers of the measure urged Berkshire officials to take a leading role in reducing utility dependence on coal.

Berkshire CEO Buffett and the board oppose the idea of setting goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions because it remains unclear how those emissions will be regulated.

Buffett and the board control 39 percent of the voting power. The proposal gained only 57,569 votes. Berkshire said 598,162 votes were cast against the measure.

Shareholders rejected a similar measure in 2011.

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MAKING BONBONS:

Before facing questions from a crowd of more than 30,000, the 82-year-old Buffett toured the meeting's 200,000-square-foot exhibit hall. A pack of security guards created a buffer around the "Oracle of Omaha" as he visited displays that sold Berkshire's See's Candy, explained BNSF railroad's virtues and highlighted some of the company's other 80-plus subsidiaries.

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