UPDATE 1-Berkshire's Abel sees 2015 pay surge 48 pct to $40.77 mln

Mon Feb 29, 2016 10:48am EST
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(Adds compensation details, background, comment, byline)

By Jonathan Stempel

Feb 29 (Reuters) - The energy unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc on Monday said Gregory Abel, its chairman and chief executive, saw his compensation jump 48 percent last year to $40.77 million, reflecting a large incentive award.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy Co said Abel, 53, whom many investors view as a potential successor to Buffett as Berkshire's chief executive, was awarded $28 million under a profit-sharing plan tied to the unit's earnings.

Abel also received a $1 million salary and an $11.5 million bonus. His pay package was disclosed in Berkshire Hathaway Energy's annual report. Abel's compensation in 2014 was $27.58 million, including a $12 million incentive award.

The 2015 package makes Abel one of the best paid among U.S. energy executives and Berkshire's 361,270 employees.

It could also be a factor in his staying with Berkshire.

In a letter to shareholders that fueled speculation about Abel's future, Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger called Abel a "world-leading" performer who, in some ways, was a better businessman than Buffett.

"If he's that talented, he could have a host of other, extremely lucrative opportunities outside the company," said Minor Myers, a Brooklyn Law School professor specializing in executive pay.   Continued...