Warren Buffett said he abstained in Coca-Cola's shareholder vote on a controversial pay plan because he had "no desire to go to war" with the company, even though he disliked the plan.
Buffett, however, said the plan may be changed before it is implemented, so that it is no longer "excessive." Coke's management, he said, will do "what's right."
Buffett expressed his concerns to CEO Muhtar Kent before the vote and went public on CNBC with his criticism just after Coke announced the plan had won approval of 83 percent of shares voted.
He said it should be "no surprise" to people that corporate boards are "clubby" and partially "social organizations." "There's a great tendency to act in a socially acceptable way instead of a business maximizing way."
Buffett pointed out that many board members are very well paid and are hoping to be invited onto other boards as well. Raising objections makes them less attractive to other companies. "That's the real world."
Buffett added that you can get things done without getting into a fight, and that's true outside the board room as well.
Buffett's reluctance to vote against the plan has been criticized by some advocates of corporate governance reform, including activist investor Carl Icahn.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) (BRK-B) holds 400 million Coke (KO) shares, about 9 percent of the company's shares outstanding. It's worth about $16.4 billion.
Buffett's comments echoed what he told roughly 38,000 shareholders at this weekend's annual meeting.
Buffett appeared live from Omaha with Becky Quick on CNBC's "Squawk Box" following the meeting.
Berkshire also has a $1.4 billion stake in General Motors (GM). Buffett endorsed CEO Mary Barra's handling of the automaker's recall controversy. She's in a "hotseat," he said, "but not a hotseat of her own making."
He said Bank of America's accounting error when calculating losses from its acquisition of Merrill Lynch in 2009 didn't worry him very much. CEO Brian Moynihan is "doing a terrific job." The bank "has a wonderful deposit franchise and it will do well over time."
Berkshire has a multibillion dollar investment in Bank of America (BAC).
Buffett repeated his desire to do another big deal with Brazil's 3G. Berkshire Hathaway's partner in last year's $23 billion purchase of Heinz. He said that deal is going well.
Asked if he's "cooking" up anything with 3G, Buffett said 3G's Jorge Paulo "does the cooking. I do the tasting." One thing the two companies won't do, he said, is launch a hostile takeover.
7 Simple Habits to Save a Pretty Penny (or $100)
Buffett: 'No Desire to Go to War with Coca-Cola'
Have you ever heard of the 30-day rule? As a frugal guy, this is one of my favorite rules in spending. If you’re about to spend any more than $20 on something that is unnecessary, don’t. Instead, put the item down and wait 30 days to buy it. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save by not making unnecessary frivolous purchases.
I literally mean freeze your credit cards. It seems a bit extreme, but think of it this way. The average credit card comes with a 13 percent or higher interest rate. By simply not using credit cards as often, you’ll save a ton. So, get a plastic sandwich bag and put your credit cards in it. Fill it with water, zip it up and throw it in the freezer. Without easy access to those tempting pieces of plastic, you probably won’t use them as much. However, they’ll still be around -- in an emergency, you can retrieve them from the ice.
Have you ever looked around your house, seen a few items and thought, “I could have made that!” You probably could have. The only thing is, you didn’t. Instead you paid for it. From now on, before you buy something you think you can make on your own, give it a shot. I saved a little over a hundred bucks about two weeks ago. I needed a new bird cage for my fiancé’s doves. Instead of buying a cage for $200, I made one that was far bigger for less than $80.
Did you know that a clean air filter in your car can lead to 7 percent more fuel efficiency? That means at current gas prices, with a clean air filter, you’ll save about $100 a year, if you drive the average 10,000 miles.
How often on the way home from the office do you want to stop for a convenient quick meal? You’ve had a long day, and it feels justified. But it costs much more than a home-cooked meal. The answer is your slow cooker. Use it to prepare your meal in the morning on days you know will be rough. This way, you can skip the fast food and rush home to an already ready home-cooked meal.
Do you pay a maintenance fee for your bank account? Why? Tons of banks offer checking and savings accounts without them. Look to your local credit union or even switch to an online bank. When comparing your options, also look at the interest you can earn. Currently, I get about 3 percent on checking and about 3.4 percent on savings, but who knows what kind of great deals you can find?
I’ve had tons of options to sign up for customer rewards programs and I was just too busy. So, I didn’t sign up. Then one day, I realized that I was paying for rewards I wasn’t getting. The cost of the rewards obviously trickles down to the end consumer. So, if the end consumer doesn’t take part, he or she loses money in the process. Since I’ve signed up for every reward program around me, I’ve saved at least 20 or 30 bucks a month in rewards.