Buffett denies Bermuda cruise caused CEO firing
Warren Buffett, the head of investment firm Berkshire Hathaway, has denied press reports that he replaced the CEO of subsidiary Benjamin Moore because of a company-paid yacht trip to Bermuda. Berkshire Hathaway spokeswoman Diana Dozier contacted Home Channel News more than a week after we reported the New York Post story of Denis Abrams’s firing, which was blamed on a dinner cruise Abrams took with his top executives to celebrate the company’s first quarterly sales increase since 2007. Abrams served as CEO of the paint supplier for seven years.
“Mr. Abrams was let go due to the difference in strategy,” Dozier said. She also made reference to a letter Buffett wrote to Abrams saying he needed to leave because of “a differing view about distribution channels and brand strategy.”
Abrams was quickly replaced by Robert (Bob) Merritt, who was named CEO and president. Merritt comes to Benjamin Moore with more than three decades of management experience in the restaurant and food preparation and distribution industries. As senior VP and CFO of Outback Steakhouse Inc., he oversaw the initial public offering in 1991 of that franchise and its subsequent listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Under his stewardship, the company grew from five restaurants in Florida to more than 1,250 locations in 22 countries. The original Outback brand also expanded during Merritt’s tenure to seven additional restaurant concepts, including Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Roy’s, and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. While working for Price Waterhouse, Merritt had clients in various industries, including a large railroad, a plumbing supply manufacturer and distributor and a manufacturer of medical imaging equipment.