Warren Buffett said in his 55 years as a director he has never heard anyone say in a board meeting they were against a pay plan put forward by a company's compensation committee.
In a live interview on CNBC, Buffett admitted he had voted for compensation plans that he didn't like. "Taking on a (compensation) committee is a little bit like belching at the dinner table... You can't do it too often. If you do, you find you're eating in the kitchen pretty soon."
Buffett was being asked about his decision to abstain Berkshire Hathaway's 400 million share stake in the vote over a controversial equity compensation plan at Coca-Cola, even though he thought it was "excessive."
Here's the excerpt from our unofficial transcript:
BUFFETT: I've been on boards for 55 years—19 public boards—I've never heard of a vote against the compensation plan voted by a compensation committee. What happens in a board, I—I think people sometimes have a mistaken notion of how boards act. But—the compensation committee comes in, they've worked for a few hours, maybe a few days, they've had consultants. And—and they say, "We've approved this plan." I've never yet heard at any of the 19 boards I was on, anybody say in the meeting they were against it. And I've had—heard a few say it outside of the meeting. But—but taking on a committee that's reported, you've assigned—the job to the committee, and they—taking them on, it is a little bit like belching at the dinner table. I mean, you can't do it too often. (LAUGH) If you do, you find you're eating in the kitchen pretty soon.
BECKY: Did you ever vote for something when you were on a board that you disagreed with?
BECKY: Like what?
BUFFETT: Well, I've voted for compensation plans that I haven't agreed with. But I—I've even sort of muttered a yes on—on some mergers that (LAUGH) I didn't think made any sense. But that—it happens.
—By CNBC's Alex Crippen. Follow him on Twitter: @alexcrippen