Corporate Governance Concerns at Berkshire Hathaway|Business Ethics|Case Study|Case Studies

Corporate Governance Concerns at Berkshire Hathaway

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Case Details:

Case Code : BECG123
Case Length : 17 Pages
Period : 2010-2012
Organization : Berkshire Hathaway
Pub Date : 2012
Teaching Note : Not Available
Countries : US; Global
Industry : Conglomerate

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"...a $200 billion company that employs about 260,000 people can't be run by a single man."

-Alice Shroeder, Commentator, Bloomberg, in April 2011.

Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate operating in diverse businesses, had expanded over the years by acquiring companies and operating them as its subsidiaries and by buying a sizeable number of shares of promising companies and companies that it felt were undervalued. The company was known as much for the returns it generated for investors as for its chief, Warren E. Buffett (Buffett), who was reputed to be a stickler for principles. Several investors and media personnel stood in awe of Buffett who managed to produce considerable capital appreciation even while not controlling the subsidiary companies with an iron fist.

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Key to his modus operandi was said to be his insistence on reposing faith in the executives of his subsidiaries, giving them a free hand and ensuring that they were not hamstrung by strict internal controls.

However, with Berkshire Hathaway's shares not being among the best performing stocks in the market since 2010, there was a simmering concern among investors and analysts on whether the company could do with stricter compliance mechanisms, and whether Buffett’s charisma was a boon or a bane for its long-term interests. The question being asked was, were the increasingly frequent controversies that Berkshire seemed to be embroiled in, a sign of the urgency with which these issues needed to be resolved?

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