Berkshire opposes dividend proposal; Buffett, Gates get pay rises

Sun Mar 16, 2014 12:45pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc has urged shareholders to vote against a proposal that it consider spending some of its $48.2 billion of cash on a "meaningful" dividend.

According to a Berkshire proxy filing on Friday, David Witt, a Cincinnati resident who owns nearly $8,600 of Berkshire stock, will propose the payout at the company's May 3 annual meeting.

Berkshire has not paid a cash dividend since 1967.

"Whereas the corporation has more money than it needs and since the owners unlike Warren are not multi-billionaires, the board shall consider paying a meaningful annual dividend on the shares," Witt's proposal said, referring as Buffett does to shareholders as owners.

Buffett was not immediately available for comment.

His $58.2 billion net worth makes him the world's fourth-richest person, Forbes magazine said this month.

In opposing Witt's proposal, Berkshire's board said it already considers annually whether the Omaha, Nebraska-based company should retain all earnings.

Buffett, 83, has long maintained that he can generate better returns through acquisitions such as the BNSF railroad and investments such as Wells Fargo & Co.

He told shareholders in 2011 that Berkshire's share price ought to fall if the company decided to pay a dividend. Buffett also wants to keep a $20 billion cash cushion.   Continued...

Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett gestures at the start of a 5km race sponsored by Brooks Sports Inc., a Berkshire-owned company, in Omaha May 5, 2013, a day after the company's annual meeting. REUTERS/Rick Wilking