Berkshire Hathaway’s 2013 Shareholder Meeting (DealBook)
Ms. Loomis of Fortune asks a question on behalf of a shareholder in the audience: How would you explain Berkshire and its value premise to the investor’s 13-year-old daughter? Mr. Munger takes first crack as Mr. Buffett helps himself to some See’s Candy fudge: “We like to stay sane while others go crazy. That’s a competitive advantage.”
JPMorgan Investors Urged to Split Chairman Role, Oust Directors (Bloomberg)
Stockholders should vote in favor of a proposal to split the roles of chairman and chief executive officer, both currently held by Jamie Dimon, at New York-based JPMorgan’s annual meeting May 21, Institutional Shareholder Services said in a report. ISS, which advises investors on proxy voting and corporate governance, cited “failures of stewardship” in opposing the re-election of three risk-committee directors. ... ISS recommended that shareholders oppose the re-election of Risk Policy Committee members David Cote, Ellen Futter and panel Chairman James Crown. Former KPMG International Chairman Timothy Flynn, who was appointed to the committee after the loss disclosure last year, should be re-elected, ISS said. “The CIO losses revealed multiple points of failure in the risk oversight process, and certain members of the RPC lack relevant industry expertise,” ISS wrote.
As Companies Step Up Buybacks, Executives Benefit, Too (WSJ)
As corporations step up stock repurchases to return cash to shareholders, compensation targets tied to per-share earnings—a common factor in executive-pay calculations—are helping to increase many executives' pay. The link worries some investors and compensation advisers because they fear the figure is too easily manipulated. The debate is a tricky one, though, because buybacks are generally seen as a plus for shareholders and thus something to be encouraged.
In Commerce Pick’s ’08 Answers on Finances, Possible Hints at Road Ahead (NYT)
Republican senators are likely to be interested in the Pritzker family’s reputation as innovators in the use of offshore trusts and foreign bank secrecy laws to shelter their wealth from income, capital gains and inheritance taxes. Even after tax code loopholes were closed, the family’s trusts were grandfathered in and it kept benefiting from them. Indeed, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, has called for scrutiny of her family’s trusts, saying she was “associated with the kind of tax avoidance activity that the president dismisses as fat cat shenanigans for others. It’s hypocritical to overlook tax avoidance when it’s convenient.”
Warren Buffett: Stocks Will Go 'Far Higher' Over Time (CNBC)
Even as stock indexes hit all-time highs, Warren Buffett predicts they'll go "far higher" in the long run. ... Acknowledging that milestones like Dow 15,000 can draw attention to stocks, Buffett said people should pay more attention when indexes cross those milestones on the way down because that's when stocks are "cheaper" and more attractive to buy. There could be a pullback for stocks at any time, Buffett said, advising against attempts to time the market. "People pay way too much attention to the short term."
Harvard's Niall Ferguson Apologizes for 'Stupid' Keynes Remarks (CNBC)
Asked about Keynes' observation that "in the long run we are all dead," Ferguson said that Keynes had been indifferent to the long run because he had no children, and that he had no children because he was gay. ... On Saturday, Niall Ferguson posted an apology on Twitter: "I apologize deeply and unreservedly for stupid and tactless remarks about Keynesthat I made. I should not have suggested—in an off-the-cuff response that was not part of my presentation—that Keynes was indifferent to the long run because he had no children, nor that he had no children because he was gay. This was doubly stupid," Ferguson wrote on his blog. "First, it is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations," he wrote. "Second, I had forgotten that Keynes's wife Lydia miscarried."
Obama backs rise in US gas exports (FT)
Barack Obama said at the weekend the US was likely to be a net gas exporter by 2020, the strongest sign yet that the president is swinging his support behind higher energy sales overseas. The Department of Energy is studying applications for new liquefied natural gas terminals, with approval of one in Texas likely within months. It would be only the second such approval granted for sales to countries without trade agreements with the US, such as Japan, the world’s largest importer of LNG.
Brussels steps up efforts over tax avoidance (FT)
Brussels is increasing efforts to clamp down on tax avoidance by wealthy investors, including private equity partners and hedge funds, by forcing all 27 EU members to share confidential information on individuals’ investment income and capital gains for the first time. Europe’s five largest economies – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – recently agreed to start sharing this information but extending the rules to the rest of the bloc would encompass countries such as Luxembourg and Ireland, where many of the continent’s biggest investment funds are domiciled. The move comes amid a renewed international push to tackle tax evasion and avoidance.
EU regulator takes aim at Google over Apple mobile patent lawsuit (Reuters)
The European Commission said it believed Motorola Mobility, a unit of Google, was abusing its market position by seeking and enforcing an injunction against Apple in Germany over patents essential to mobile phone standards. ... "I think that companies should spend their time innovating and competing on the merits of the products they offer - not misusing their intellectual property rights to hold up competitors to the detriment of innovation and consumer choice," Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.
Buyout Consortium Said Near a Deal for BMC (DealBook)
A group of private equity firms led by Bain Capital and Golden Gate Capital is near a deal to buy BMC Software, people briefed on the matter said on Sunday, nearly a year after an activist hedge fund sought to push the technology company onto the auction block. The group is expected to pay around $46 a share, one of these people said, valuing the company at over $6.5 billion. A deal could be announced as soon as Monday, though these people said that final details were still being negotiated and talks could still fall apart.
Mike Tyson champ-ing at bit to do Shakespeare (NYDN)
Now that he’s wrapped his one-man show, “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,” the former heavyweight champion of the world is ready to knock out the Bard. “Wouldn’t Shakespeare be awesome?” Tyson asked us a few days before ending his show in Westbury, Conn., Sunday. “That black guy ... could you imagine me in ‘Othello?’” According to the 46-year-old former pugilist, all he needs is a little time to train and he’ll be ready for the lead in Shakespeare’s great tragedy.