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Buffett: No free rides on Berkshire's dollar

World's most successful investor reimburses his company for postage and phone calls for personal use, and doesn't use company cars or airplanes.

By Rob Kelley, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The world's most successful investor - and second richest man - is perhaps also its least lavish CEO.

Warren Buffett refuses to use company cars or airplanes for any business that's remotely personal, and each year writes a big check to pay the company back for postage or phone calls used for personal pursuits, according to Berkshire Hathaway's (Charts) annual proxy statement, released Wednesday.

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett
Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett

Sure, there are CEOs who have no qualms about having shareholders foot the bill for frequent use of company planes and other lavish expenses, but Buffett won't be counted among their ranks.

Last year he reimbursed Berkshire $50,000 for personal expenses, so that shareholders wouldn't be stuck with the bill for his postage stamps and phone calls home, according to the statement.

In fact, Buffett describes his payment as "equal to or greater than the costs" of his expenses.

Charlie Munger, the company's Vice Chairman, paid Berkshire $5,500 for his share of expenses.

For the last 25 years, both Buffett and Munger have received an annual salary of $100,000 a year - a paltry sum compared to the amount of money they generate for Berkshire investors - and there are no raises in the pipeline. Perhaps it matters less when your net worth is in the billions, as is true of both men.

Neither Buffett nor Munger use corporate-owned planes for personal trips, opting instead to pay standard rates for the use of NetJets, a company that offers rentals of private jets. It doesn't hurt that Berkshire Hathaway owns NetJets. The men use Berkshire-owned aircraft for business purposes only.

Buffett's close attention to his impact on the company's bottom line is an uncommon sight in corporate compensation disclosures.


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