March 31, 2011, 12:11 PM ET
By Shira Ovide and Ronald Barusch
Some executives resign to “spend more time with their families.” David Sokol, the Berkshire Hathaway executive who resigned under a cloud, is decamping to make more money for his family. Which leads to the inevitable question: How much money does Sokol have, anyway?
Sokol said he wants to put together his own “mini-Berkshire,” he told CNBC today. He also expressed a wish to invest his money to create an “enterprise which will provide opportunity for my descendents and funding for my philanthropic interests,” according to Sokol’s resignation letter quoted by Warren Buffett.
In his decade-long role as a Berkshire official, and as the unofficial fix-it man for troubled Buffett businesses such as NetJets, Sokol has no doubt collected a tidy sum to funnel into philanthropic interests.
The scale of his compensation and wealth are not known. Berkshire does not disclose Sokol’s total annual compensation, nor his options or stock holdings in Berkshire Hathaway.
However, Sokol also serves as chairman of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., an energy company in which Berkshire owns an 89.8% stake. A piece of MidAmerican trades shares on an over-the-counter exchange, and the company discloses compensation information for Sokol as part of its SEC disclosures.
Here is a look at what Sokol has pulled down just from MidAmerican.
In the past three years, MidAmerican has disclosed total compensation for Sokol of $24.2 million. The figure include his salary, bonuses, the changing value of his pension, company contributions to his 401(k) and other items, according to MidAmerican’s recent annual report.
Sokol also has pension benefits that MidAmerican valued at $7.8 million as of Dec. 31, according to the annual filing.
Sokol’s employment contract with MidAmerican entitles him to an estimated cash payment of $1.7 million if he loses his job involuntary “without cause.” It’s unclear if Sokol’s resignation will entitle him to the payout. (He doesn’t collect the severance if his departure is considered a retirement.) In any case, Sokol can walk away with with a pension value of $8.1 million, MidAmerican disclosed in the annual report. (Read Sokol’s employment contract HERE.)
Sokol also made a paper and real gain of roughly $3 million on his now controversial purchases of stock in Lubrizol, the specialty-chemicals company Berkshire later agreed to buy for $9 billion.
We don’t know how fat Sokol’s brokerage account is, but over three days in early January – before Sokol began to talk to Buffett about acquiring Lubrizol – Sokol bought roughly $10 million of Lubrizol shares. On CNBC today, Sokol said the purchases were part of his normal investments.
Sokol said in the interview that he doesn’t trade a lot, pegging the number of annual investment decisions at around three or four. After Berkshire agreed earlier this month to buy Lubrizol for $135 a share, Sokol’s paper gain on the shares is roughly $3 million.
Sokol also owns more than 1.4 million shares – or 20.24% — of a small bank, Middleburg Financial Corp. The company’s price is shooting up more than 9% today, giving Sokol a paper gain of roughly $1.9 million from yesterday.