(Adds comments, Munger quotes)
NEW YORK May 5 Berkshire Hathaway Inc
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Warren Buffett said on
Monday that tax-driven mergers could attract the attention of
Congress and would cause a "fight" in corporate America.
Buffett, in reference to U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc.'s
aim to lower its tax rate by changing its domicile to
Britain as part of its pursuit of Britain's AstraZeneca Plc
, said that more companies were seeking mergers for
"It will gather momentum and my guess is that when you get
to companies of this size, this prominence, and with this speed
up of momentum, my guess is that Congress one way or another
addresses this," Buffett told cable television network CNBC.
"This whole thing on the foreign situation I think will
cause one hell of a fight in corporate America," he said.
Buffett said that while there could be a new resolution to
corporate taxes beyond the topic of foreign tax rates, U.S.
companies were flourishing under the current tax code.
"American business, I will tell you, whether it's Berkshire
Hathaway or Pfizer or Apple, are doing wonderfully under this
Buffett also said that moves in U.S. government bond
interest rates did not affect how Berkshire operated. The yield
on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 2.572 percent on
Monday, its lowest level in over three months.
"If it moved up 50 basis points or down 50 basis points, we
would not do anything differently. We don't react to macro
factors at Berkshire," he said. He said the 10-year yield would
likely be higher than 3 percent by the end of the year.
Buffett also reiterated that he had no desire to "go to war"
with Coca-Cola Co, and that his approach to the company's
controversial equity compensation plan was more effective than
the style that might be used by activist investor Carl Icahn.
Buffett, responding to criticism from Icahn regarding
Buffett's decision to abstain from the shareholder vote, said,
"I think our style actually would be more effective than the
style that might be proposed by Carl."
Buffett told CNBC he had not spoken to Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar
Kent since the company's annual meeting on April 23.
Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger said later in the
interview that he agreed with Buffett's decision to abstain from
the vote, and that it was not a "difficult decision."
"It took about 10 seconds," Munger said. "I thought he
handled it perfectly."
Munger also said that he was against exporting natural gas
given how "precious" it is. "I'm totally against exporting
natural gas. I don't like oil to be exported either," he said.
Buffett also praised Berkshire Hathaway portfolio managers
Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, and said that while they were not
candidates to succeed him as chief executive, their duties in
investing would aid the next chief executive.
"They will not be the chief executive officer, but they will
be there to help the chief executive officer in that arena," he
(Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Nick