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Berkshire opposes shareholders' climate change, diversity proposals

Warren Buffett

(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 $380,328, comprising his usual $100,000 salary, plus $280,328 for personal and home security.

Though Mr. Buffett's salary is low for a CEO of a major company, his 16.2% stake in Berkshire was worth about $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 Mr. Buffett sets, were each awarded $19 million, unchanged from 2019.

Berkshire's dozens of operating businesses include the BNSF railroad, Berkshire Hathaway Energy and Geico.

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 Mr. 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.

Mr. Buffett controls 32.1% 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 Mr. Buffett in person to answer 3-1/2 hours of shareholder questions.