(Reuters) - Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman and chief executive officer of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N), praised Coca-Cola’s (KO.N) altered executive compensation plan on Thursday.
“I think the new plan makes great, great sense,” Buffett told cable business channel CNBC, referring to Coca-Cola’s new guidelines to limit the executive compensation plan, starting next year.
“I think it’s remarkable what Coke did,” said Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway is the company’s biggest shareholder with a 9.1 percent stake. Referring to Maria Elena Lagomasino, chair of Coca-Cola’s compensation committee, Buffett said, “I tip my hat to her.”
Buffett said he felt as good as ever about his investment in Coca-Cola. He told CNBC earlier this year he had abstained from a shareholder vote on its controversial equity compensation plan when it came up for renewal in April, even though he considered it excessive.
Buffett also said Burger King Worldwide Inc’s BKW.N $11.5 billion purchase of Tim Hortons Inc THI.TOTHI.N was not a tax-motivated deal. “Overwhelmingly, most inversion deals have had a huge tax motivation in doing them, I can tell you this one didn’t,” he said.
Berkshire committed $3 billion in preferred equity for 3G Capital, which controls Burger King, to buy Tim Hortons. Investors and tax experts have said the main reason for Burger King to move its domicile to Canada was to avoid double taxation on profits earned abroad.
Buffett said Berkshire’s investment in Tesco Plc (TSCO.L), Britain’s biggest retailer, was a “huge mistake.” Berkshire had a roughly 3.96 percent stake in Tesco’s shares, according to an early May regulatory filing. Tesco shares have fallen about 46 percent this year.
Buffett also said his company’s purchase of auto dealership group Van Tuyl Group, announced Thursday, was an all-cash deal. He said Berkshire would likely buy “a lot more” dealerships over time.
Buffett said if he was invested in asset manager Pimco, he would not have changed his investment after the departure of Bill Gross, the co-founder and chief investment officer.
“I would assume that Pimco has got all kinds of professionals there managing money,” Buffett said. “I would not change, myself, just because Bill Gross left, I mean if I was happy with the personnel at Pimco.”
Gross, one of the bond market’s most closely followed investors, quit Pimco, or the Pacific Investment Management Co, for distant rival Janus Capital Group Inc JNS.N last Friday. He was expected to be fired the next day from the huge investment firm he co-founded more than 40 years ago, a source said.
Reporting by Sam Forgione in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe