The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO) was in the news today for its dividend hike, which we briefly addressed in our Top Dividend Gain Trends in 2011 today. Unfortunately, about 30 minutes later came a press release that Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-B) was going to be stepping down from the Washington Post’s board of directors. What we are curious about is if there is more to the story than meets the eye.
For starters, Buffett has been on that board for almost 37 years (minus 8 when on Capital Cities’ board). Berkshire Hathaway is also a key shareholder and our full Buffett holdings shows that he holds some 1.72 million shares.
There is a fair question to ask. Is this the beginning of the end for Warren Buffett as a key manager of businesses? We do not think that Buffett will ever leave the world of business and finance unless he becomes incapacitated or dies. That does not imply that he won’t give up the CEO role. Business and finance at his level is honestly just too addictive to give up. Going on a lecture tour and telling old stories and using corny analogies just doesn’t offer enough juice for most people that reach anywhere close to Buffett’s stature.
Buffett also signaled that the move will not occur until his seat term expires in May. Any change to his position of Berkshire Hathaway may still be some ways off.
As we were working on this bit, our second question was partially answered. Fox Business News just reported that Buffett will not be selling any shares of Washington Post on behalf of Berkshire Hathaway. The move was said to be to focus more on Berkshire Hathaway.
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JON C. OGG