Pension giant CalSTRS withholds support for entire Berkshire Hathaway board

Netherlands’ PGGM withholds vote on chairman/CEO Buffett

It’s emerged that the $163.7bn (€124.8bn) California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) withheld its support for the entire director slate at Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway at the conglomerate’s annual meeting over the weekend.

CalSTRS withheld backing for the election of Buffett, key lieutenant Charlie Munger and Microsoft founder Bill Gates as directors of the company, according to voting data on its own website.

In total, the influential investor declined to back the entire 13-member board roster. The fund voted against the entire board in the previous two years as well.

Fellow investment giant, the €133bn Dutch pension asset manager PGGM Investments, focused on Buffett himself, withholding its vote on the legendary investor over his combined role as both chairman and chief executive, as it has done at previous Berkshire Hathaway AGMs.

PGGM, which manages pension assets for five pension funds representing some 2.5m people, said: “Although we recognize the value of Mr. Buffet to the company, he would serve as both chairman and CEO.“The Chairman’s role on a board is to evaluate and review the performance of management; this role is obviously compromised when the Chairman is also the CEO.”

Both CalSTRS and PGGM voted in support of a shareholder motion relating to greenhouse gas emissions. Other investors, for example the Alberta Investment Management Company (AIMCo) did not back the proposal brought by private investor Robert Berridge. AIMCo said it “generally supports this type of proposal, however the responsibility does not lie with a financial industry company”.
Responsible Investor had earlier reported that a number of responsible investors, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Christian Brothers Investment Services and Trillium Asset Management, had withheld their support for Buffett. Trillium’s issue was with the company’s board diversity, said its Director of Advocacy Jonas Kron.

Berkshire Hathaway has yet to release voting results from the meeting, held in Omaha, Nebraska.