Warren Buffet Pressures Coca-Coal Over Executive Pay
Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffet.Reuters

Coca-Cola could revise a contentious equity compensation plan for executives before it takes effect in 2015, following pressure from Warren Buffett, whose conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway is Coke's largest shareholder.

Buffett, chairman of Berkshire, has vented his reservations about the so-called 2014 Equity Plan to Coca-Cola chief executive Muhtar Kent, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Changes to the plan could include awarding fewer options to each Coke staffer every year, so the pool of options in the new plan lasts longer, the Journal said.

A second choice could be a longer vesting period for options than the four years the plan orders

A third move could involve flipping the 60%-40% split between stock options and performance units, the Journal added.

Meanwhile, Coke spokesman Petro Kacur told Reuters that "no changes are being made to the plan at this time".

Mounting Pressure

Buffett's pressure follows that from critics, particularly from activist investor David Winters, fund manager of Wintergreen Advisers, who has said the plan will dilute the holdings of current shareholders too much.

The world's biggest soda maker said last week that 83% of shareholders approved the plan.

Buffett said last week that he thought Coke's equity compensation plan for its top officers was excessive, but Berkshire abstained in the shareholders vote.

2014 Equity Plan

Coke's disputed compensation package will include 500 million shares, including stock options and performance share units.

Winters has maintained that the proposed plan, when combined with equity awards from existing plans, could dilute shareholders by as much as 16.6%.

As of 24 February, Berkshire owned 400 million shares of the company, or just over 9% of the outstanding shares, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Wintergreen owns about 2.8 million shares in Coke, according to FactSet.