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专栏 - 斯坦福商学院评论

被巴菲特投资是一种什么感觉

Shana Lynch 2016年03月16日

本专栏由财富中文网与斯坦福商学院合作推出,荟萃来自该学院的最新研究智慧。斯坦福商学院一直以教授的前沿研究和专业的管理课程在全球范围内久负盛名,包括MBA项目和斯坦福“点燃”创新项目。
巴菲特旗下80多家子公司的CEO,揭秘巴菲特收购及管理风格。“(被投资之后)唯一的变化是现在我会跟巴菲特商讨每一笔重大收购。但我们的经营方式一如既往。”

对许多公司来说,被沃伦•巴菲特的伯克希尔-哈撒韦公司收购有一点儿传奇色彩。伯克希尔的五大支柱,也就是五家最大的非保险子公司2014年实现税前利润124亿美元,同比增长近13%。其他小型子公司当年的利润也增长了8%。

当然,巴菲特的收购并非每次都物有所值,比如,乐购和Dexter Shoe。但就外部人士的角度而言,伯克希尔的策略一直都无比成功。按市场回报率计算,1965年巴菲特掌权至今,该公司股价累计上涨了1826163%。

那么,从内部来看,情况又会如何呢?斯坦福大学商学院教授大卫•F•拉克尔和研究人员布莱恩•塔扬询问了大约80位伯克希尔子公司CEO,目的是了解这些公司对巴菲特的收购以及管理风格有何看法。

收购所需时间

通常来说,收购可以进行得很快,也可以耗时数年。做好准备后,巴菲特的行动速度相当快。伯克希尔小型子公司(年收入低于10亿美元)的首席执行官们表示,从初步商讨到正式提出收购的时间为1-2个月。大型子公司需要的时间长一些,平均为6-9个月。完成收购的时间与之类似——小型子公司为1-2个月,大型子公司为4-5个月。

立即出现的变化

大多数受访者称,收购之后自己的公司在治理方面几乎没有出现重大变化。很多时候,这些变化主要出现在董事会或者CEO的薪酬合同中。保险子公司的CEO说,他们调整了内部审计和风险管理方法。当然,已经上市的公司都撤销了自己的投资者关系部门。

总之,这些CEO认为变化较少。一位受访者说:“唯一的变化是现在我会跟沃伦商讨每一笔重大收购。我们的经营方式一如既往。”

眼光放长远

子公司CEO还认为,自己的公司在伯克希尔旗下表现得更好,甚至比它们继续保持独立还要好。受访者将此归结为伯克希尔的品牌价值和资金实力。还有别的原因吗?有,伯克希尔让这些CEO重点关注长期表现,这个期限要长于别的所有者可能给予他们的时间。虽然每位CEO对这个期限的具体长度看法不一(他们给出的答案从3年到50年不等),但他们都说,伯克希尔的管理层鼓励他们把眼光放长远。

薪酬水平

受访者在另一个问题上也态度一致——他们都认为,在别的所有者那里能获得更多酬劳。这些CEO都说,自己的年终奖金取决于两项业绩指标(一般来说,大公司都采用2-4项指标)。伯克希尔评估这些CEO的标准包括利润、权益回报率、营业利润率或净利润率。伯克希尔的股价和他们的薪酬无关,许多大公司都采取这样的做法。

放权式管理

调查表明,巴菲特一直采用的风格是“放权但不放任”。这些CEO每个月都向总部提交财务报表,但并不经常跟巴菲特联系。大多数受访者表示,每个月或者每个季度会和巴菲特通一次电话。没有哪位CEO就此做过事先安排,而且所有人都说是他们给巴菲特打的电话。

这些CEO指出,巴菲特也不大可能插手他们公司的事务。在出现劳资纠纷、供应链问题、公司遭到起诉以及销售额小幅下跌等局面时,他们都要独立应付。什么情况下需要和巴菲特电话联系呢?受访者称,对伯克希尔的声誉有影响的事,或者对此前披露的业绩做出重大调整。一位CEO说:“别人绝不会给子公司这样的自由。”

巴菲特退休后情况会如何

受访的CEO都认为,伯克希尔的子公司拥有共同的文化,那就是把重心放在诚实、正直、长期发展和客户服务上,而且这样的文化不会在巴菲特退休后发生改变。正如一位CEO所说:“和伯克希尔董事会以及其他伯克希尔子公司经理接触的越多,我对后巴菲特时期伯克希尔的未来就越有信心。”(财富中文网)

译者:Charlie

校对:詹妮

For many companies, there’s a bit of magic to being bought by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. The company’s “Powerhouse Five,” its largest noninsurance businesses, recorded $12.4 billion in pre-tax earnings last year, up nearly 13% from the previous year. Its smaller companies also grew, increasing 8% over the year.

Of course, not all his bets have paid off (think Tesco and Dexter Shoe). But from an outsider’s perspective, Berkshire’s strategy has been a wild success. Using market returns, shares gained acumulative 1,826,163% since Buffett took the reins in 1965.

But what does it look like from the inside? Stanford Graduate School of Business professorDavid F. Larcker and Stanford GSB researcherBrian Tayan surveyed approximately 80 Berkshire subsidiary CEOs to determine how Buffett’sacquisition and management style translates on the ground.

Acquisition Time

Acquisitions in general can move quickly or take years, but Buffett moves fairly quickly when he’s ready to buy. The CEOs of Berkshire’s smaller subsidiaries (less than $1 billion in revenue) said about one to two months passed between initial acquisition discussion and a formal offer. Larger subsidiaries took longer — on average, six to nine months. Closing times also lined up similarly: Smaller firms took between one to two months to close, while larger firms took four to five months.

Immediate Changes

Most respondents said their companies experienced few major governance changes following their acquisitions. When there were changes, they were most often to the board of directors or CEO compensation contracts. Insurance subsidiary CEOs said they changed internal-audit and risk-management practices. Of course, companies that had been publicly traded eliminated their investor-relations departments.

Still, changes were relatively few, the CEOs reported. One respondent noted, “The only change is that I now discuss any major capital acquisitions with Warren. We run the business the way we always have.”

Long-Term View

The subsidiary chiefs also believe their companies’ performances are better under Berkshire (and even better than if they were stand-alone companies). Respondents point to Berkshire’s brand value and financial strength. Another reason? Berkshire lets CEOs focus on a longer performance horizon than they would expect under other ownership. Although each CEO varied on what that horizon would be, with estimates ranging from three years to 50, they all said Berkshire management encourages a long-term focus.

Compensation

Another area of agreement: Survey respondents think they’d be paid better elsewhere. All say their annual bonus is calculated with two performance measures (typically, larger corporations use 2.4 measures). Berkshire CEOs are judged on metrics such as earnings, return on equity, and operating or profit margins. None have their compensation tied to Berkshire’s stock price, which is standard practice in many large companies.

Hands-Off Management

According to the survey, Buffett lives up to his “delegation just short of abdication” style. The CEOs provide monthly financial statements to headquarters, but they have infrequent contact with Buffett. Most report having phone calls with him on a monthly or quarterly basis. None have a pre-established schedule, and all said they initiate the communication themselves.

Buffett is also unlikely to get involved in the affairs of their companies, the CEOs noted. They would handle independently issues like labor disruptions, supply-chain issues, legal action against the company, or modest declines in sales. What would bring Buffett to the phone: anything that impacts Berkshire’s reputation or a severe restatement of previously reported financial results, respondents said. One CEO noted, “No one gives a company this kind of freedom.”

Life Beyond Buffett

Each CEO who took the survey agrees that common culture is shared across Berkshire’s subsidiaries, and that culture — focused on honesty, integrity, long-term orientation, and customer service — won’t change when Buffett steps down. As one said, “The more I interact with the board at Berkshire and other Berkshire managers, the more confident I am in the future of Berkshire post-Warren.”

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