rain
Thursday May 28th, 2015 6:20PM

Buffett disapproves of Coca-Cola's pay plan

By The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) - Warren Buffett criticized Coca-Cola's pay plan for its executives on Wednesday.

Buffett, whose company is Coca-Cola's largest shareholder, called the plan ``excessive'' in an interview on CNBC after it was approved at the beverage maker's annual meeting. But he said Berkshire Hathaway abstained from voting against it because he didn't want to express disapproval of the company's management.

Buffett also noted during the interview how difficult it can be to sit on company boards and oppose a pay plan. Buffett said that he has never heard anyone speak out against a compensation committee's plan in 55 years of serving on company boards.

``Taking them on is a little bit like belching at the dinner table. You can't do it too often,'' Buffett said.

He added that he has voted in favor of compensation plans he hasn't agreed with in the past. His son, Howard Buffett, serves on Coke's board and supported the pay plan in question.

Coca-Cola Co.'s pay plan came under scrutiny after Wintergreen Advisers took issue with it last month. Wintergreen CEO David Winters said the plan was a ``raw deal'' for shareholders that would transfer roughly $13 billion to management over the next four years. He urged Buffett to vote against the plan.

Buffett has long been a critic of excessive executive compensation. Berkshire Hathaway does not award stock options to Buffett or any other executive, and Buffett receives a salary of $100,000.

``Too often, executive compensation in the U.S. is ridiculously out of line with performance,'' Buffett wrote in his letter to shareholders in 2005. ``That won't change, moreover, because the deck is stacked against investors when it comes to the CEO's pay.''

Last year, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent was given a pay packages worth $18.2 million, according to an Associated Press analysis. That was a drop of 16 percent from the $21.6 million he earned the previous year, primarily because the company failed to meet its long-term growth targets.

Buffett said he discussed his concerns with Kent, but not until after he voted Berkshire's 400 million shares.

At the meeting in Atlanta, Coca-Cola had the chair of its compensation committee address the issues raised about the pay plan. The company has said that its plan is in line with its past practices and that it's needed to retain its talented workers. Preliminary results showed the plan was approved by 83 percent of votes.

Wintergreen issued a statement saying it was pleased by the outcome, which showed a substantial number of shareholders had concerns about the plan. During the CNBC interview, Buffett was asked why he didn't vote against the plan if he disapproved of it.

Buffett responded that it was ``kind of un-American to vote no at a Coke meeting.''

In a statement, Coca-Cola Co. says it respects Buffett's ``philosophical stance on equity-based compensation.''
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 4 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 4 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 4 months ago )
U.S. News
State DOT awards $48M contract for NE Ga. road project
The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $47.8 million contract for nine miles of work on a northeast Georgia road.
9:37AM ( 4 months ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 4 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 4 months ago )
Maysville man dies from Banks County wreck
The Georgia State Patrol reports that alcohol and/or drugs were factors a single-vehicle wreck that claimed the life of a Maysville man in Banks County Tuesday night.
11:07AM ( 4 months ago )
Local/State News
Federal prosecutors indict ex-US Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert on bank-related charges
CHICAGO (AP) — Federal prosecutors indict ex-US Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert on bank-related charges.
5:08PM ( 1 hour ago )
Homeowners clean up in Texas; death toll climbs to 21
HOUSTON (AP) — Homeowners dragged soggy carpet to the curb and mopped up coffee-colored muck Wednesday after a barrage of storms and floods in Texas and Oklahoma left at least 21 people dead and 11 ot...
11:09PM ( 19 hours ago )
US rejects nuclear disarmament document over Israel concerns
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States on Friday blocked a global document aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons, saying Egypt and other states tried to "cynically manipulate" the process by...
9:33PM ( 5 days ago )
Obama again avoids calling 1915 Armenian killings 'genocide'
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, prompting anger and disappointment from those who have been pushing him to ful...
1:00PM ( 1 month ago )
Ex-NFL star Hernandez convicted of murder, sentenced to life
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for a deadly late-night shooting, sealing the d...
8:54PM ( 1 month ago )