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Buffett's Berkshire opposes shareholders' climate change, diversity proposals

Buffett's Berkshire opposes shareholders' climate change, diversity proposals

FILE PHOTO: Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett walks through the exhibit hall as shareholders gather to hear from the billionaire investor at Berkshire Hathaway Inc's annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Scott Morgan

REUTERS: Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc on Monday urged the rejection of shareholder proposals that annual reports be produced about its efforts to address climate change and promote diversity and inclusion.

The proposals were disclosed in Berkshire's annual proxy filing, ahead of the Omaha, Nebraska-based company's scheduled May 1 annual meeting.

Berkshire also said Buffett's compensation in 2020 totaled US$380,328, comprising his usual US$100,000 salary plus US$280,328 for personal and home security.

Though Buffett's salary is low for a chief executive of a major company, his 16.2per cent stake in Berkshire was worth about US$98.2 billion as of Friday.

Vice Chairmen Greg Abel and Ajit Jain, who respectively oversee Berkshire's non-insurance and insurance operations and whose pay Buffett sets, were each awarded US$19 million, unchanged from 2019.

Berkshire's dozens of operating businesses include the BNSF railroad, Berkshire Hathaway Energy and Geico car insurer, and the smaller Brooks running shoes and Fruit of the Loom clothing.

Citing its decentralized model, Berkshire said the climate proposal from the California Public Employees' Retirement System, Federated Hermes and Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec was unnecessary, and that many businesses' climate decisions already made "great sense" for the environment.

The company also cited its business model and Buffett's record of "opposing efforts, seen or unseen, to suppress diversity or religious inclusion" in opposing the proposal on diversity from As You Sow, a nonprofit shareholder advocate.

Berkshire said its businesses "represent dissimilar industries" operating around the world, and it was "unreasonable to ask for uniform, quantitative reporting" to compare them.

Buffett controls 32.1per cent of Berkshire's voting power, and shareholder proposals he opposes normally fail by big margins.

Berkshire's annual meeting will be in Los Angeles, allowing Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, 97, a Californian, to join Buffett in person to answer 3-1/2 hours of shareholder questions.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York)

Source: Reuters

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