Buffett Defends Coke Position At Berkshire Hathaway Meeting

Warren Buffett is under fire for not opposing Coca-Cola's executive compensation plan more aggressively. Buffett spoke about his decision at a shareholder meeting for his company Berkshire Hathaway.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.


Billionaire investor Warren Buffett came under fire this weekend at his company's annual shareholder meeting. The head of Berkshire Hathaway was criticized for not opposing aggressively enough Coca-Cola's lucrative executive compensation plan. But Buffett did show signs that he is still concerned about growing income inequality.

NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: Berkshire Hathaway is Coke's biggest shareholder so Buffett's word carries a lot of weight at the company. He has said Coke's controversial compensation plan is excessive, but he declined to vote against it at a recent board meeting. Instead Buffett decided to abstain.

At this weekend's meeting, Buffett said he had expressed his unhappiness to Coke's chief executive but he also said, I don't think going to war is a very good idea in most situations. He also hinted there would be a change in Coke's pay policies over the next year or so.

In a separate interview Buffett, a longtime critic of wage inequality, also suggested he was ambivalent about how much to raise the minimum wage. But he told CNN he did favor an increase in the earned income tax credit, which goes to low-wage working people.

WARREN BUFFETT: It would fall on the federal government and it would be a form of taxation relief or a distribution in effect to people at the low end. But I think that's very appropriate in this society.

ZARROLI: Asked whether the federal government could afford to raise the credit, Buffett said if it can afford a $600 billion deficit, it can afford a $620 billion deficit.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.