Since the recent news broke that Coca-Cola's
Perhaps more interesting than the task facing the board, though, is the composition of it. While few would be surprised to hear of the -- gasp! --clubby nature of corporate boards, Coca-Cola's shows just how incestuous the relationships at some boards can be.
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently observed, Coke's 16-member board is dominated by three directors: Berkshire Hathaway's
Among Coke's other directors is InterActiveCorp's
Keough also happens to be a director at Diller's InterActiveCorp and sits on the board of Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. As if Keough isn't busy enough, he serves as chairman of Coke director Herbert Allen's Allen & Co. (Whew. Still following along?)
The fun doesn't end there. Keough was formerly a director of HomeDepot
James Robinson is also fortunate enough to call himself a Coke director. Prior to founding a venture capital firm, Robinson served as American Express'
Finally, SunTrust Banks'
This is not to say there is anything wrong or deceptive happening at the Coke board. Quite the contrary. Any board would be privileged to call Warren Buffett -- a paragon of ethical behavior -- a director. As for the web of relationships, they're all detailed in SEC filings and on Coke's website.
Instead, it goes to show that even top-notch boards might raise a few eyebrows when it comes to "independence," and that's ok. As Warren Buffett said, "It is certainly true that it is desirable to have directors who think and speak independently -- but they must also be business-savvy, interested and shareholder-oriented." With directors like Buffett and Keough, Coca-Cola shareholders can rest assured their board is the real thing.
Matt Logan is a Motley Fool contributor. He owns shares in Berkshire Hathaway.