Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) has held Warren Buffett’s respect for a long time. Did he understand the make up of the board as he developed a favourable impression? Lets take a quick look at the independent’s and try to spot a few winning DNA combinations.
I’ll start you off with two clues. Firstly many of them earned law degrees and several were practicing lawyers for much of their careers. Secondly many have DNA from regulated industries such as telecommunications, healthcare, utilities, financial services and real estate development.
Here’s a few tidbits from corporate bio’s which support my conclusions.
Susan Swenson 64 Made her bones in information technology and telecommunications which are regulated and hyper competitive.
Cynthia Milligan 66 is a lawyer, bank regulator, academic and former director of Omaha Branch of Kansas City Federal Reserve.
Lloyd Dean 62 is a San Francisco based President, CEO and Director of Dignity Health one of the largest hospital systems in the USA. Between medicine, insurance and politicians there are lots of regulatory issues.
John Baker 64 is a lawyer and experienced in real estate and construction materials. He has experience on Duke Energy board which means regulatory affairs.
Judith Runstan 68 is a lawyer and former chairwoman of the board of the Federal Reserve San Francisco. She also has experience in real estate development.
Enrique Hernandez 57 lawyer trained by Harvard Law. Director of Chevron, McDonald’s and non executive chairman of Nordstrom. A very wide scope of companies to be a steward over.
John Chen 57 is a computer guy. Former Chair and CEO of Sybase which was sold to SAP from Germany.
Susan Engel 66 was formerly a consultant with Booz Allen and has held many positions in retail consumer oriented businesses.
Federico Pena 66 is a lawyer turned professional politician. Mayor of Denver, Secretary of Transportation than Energy. Now a private equity type.
Donald James 64 started off in law school and became Chairman and CEO of Vulcan Materials. Formerly a director of Wachovia. Presiding director of Southern Company a large public utility.
Philip Quigley 70 retiring next annual meeting but was the Chair, President and CEO of Pacific Telesis Group San Francisco telecommunications.
Nicholas Moore 71 lawyer and accountant who became the global chairman of PriceWaterhouseCoopers. retiring next annual meeting.
Howard Richardson 62 Partner PriceWaterhouseCoopers New York City specializing in financial services.
Elaine Chao 59 was formerly the US Secretary of Labor. Previously held positions of increasing importance within the federal government. She is the first Asian Pacific American women to hold cabinet rank. She also sits on the board of News Corp which is an interesting hook up between Wells Fargo and Rupert Murdoch.
Stephen Sanger 66 is the lead independent director and former chairman of General Mills. He also has board experience on Pfizer and Target. Interestingly enough the lead director does not fit into my suggested profile of lawyer and regulatory savvy.
Wells Fargo has several prominent retired politicians, many lawyers who also practiced and several Fed Reserve Board alumnae. Probably not the way Warren Buffett analyzes his investments but there you have it anyway.
George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective.