Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) Faces Increased Scrutiny On CEO Succession

Berkshire Hathaway B shares Warren BuffettBy Mark Hirschey (Work of Mark Hirschey) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) Faces Increased Scrutiny On CEO Succession

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A), (NYSE:BRK.B) has lined itself up against proposals that it be more transparent with regard to plans for Warren Buffet’s successor. Last week we reported on a proposal from the AFL-CIO which sought to have the boards reportedly detailed plans for succession revealed to them. They wanted to have the information in order to best further the interests of the shareholders. The AFL-CIO is not as concerned about the actual identity of the successor but rather want assurances that the replacement will be someone from Berkshire Hathaway’s corporate culture. The provision seems to mean that Berkshire Hathaway’s next CEO should be Buffet’s successor both professionally and spiritually.

The Labor Union Federation holds just over $100,000 worth of class B shares from Berkshire. The group presumably does not expect the resolution to pass. Similar moves have been made in the past by several different players including Verizon Communications Inc., Bank of America, Comcast Corp., and FedEx among others. All of the previous resolutions have been defeated. The request for the information may result in a little more being given which is really what is being looked for by the Labor Federation. The increase in tension and publicity over the succession plans of the company have increased exponentially since Buffet’s letter to shareholders promising that the information was there and the board was in possession of detailed plans concerning his departure. The current resolution will be voted on in May at the shareholder’s annual conference.

Though there is no date specified or even general talked about when Buffet might retire he has given indications that it is in the works to a certain extent. He wrote in his shareholder’s letter last year about the candidate to replace him as CEO. He revealed in that letter that the candidate had been exposed to the board and promised there was excitement at the prospect of them taking over. He also promised that four possible internal candidates had the potential to be the CEO and one had board approval to step in right away. Warren Buffet is 81 and has presided over the Berkshire Hathaway complex since starting to buy it as a textile company in 1962. Since then it has been one of the most successful corporations on the market. At times Buffet has been declared the richest man in the world. His loss as head of the prestigious company is inevitable but it can clearly be seen is causing stress among some shareholders.

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