Even if it is widely discussed that the former Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE BRK.A, BRK.B) executive David Sokol acted in an unethical manner in the Lubrizol Corporation (NYSE: LZ) deal, people seem to forget one important matter.
A lot of the buzz is generated by the fact that Sokol took his position after that meeting with investment bankers at Citigroup on December 13th 2010. those who are in such a ruch to throw accusations at Sokol seemed to miss that there were 18 companies proposed to David Sokol on that day.
Even if he acknowledged that Lubrizol was the most interesting company out of that list. There is no way he could have known in advance which of those 18 companies Berkshire Hathaway's Chairman Warren Buffet would come to chose in the end. It is also interesting to note that Buffet was pretty cold about buying Lubrizol until near the end of January 2011.
A way to know that Sokol acted in a way to profit from an acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway would have been for him to buy all of the 18 companies. One must remember that before the acquisition, as he said in an interview on CNBC, David Sokol purchased those Lubrizol stocks for his own account because he thought that the company had a good long term potential. He also mentioned that he trades pretty rarely. That is also the same reason why he was pressing for a deal between Berkshire Hathaway and Lubrizol. He was just acting in the interest of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders according to his duties.
This all just seems to be a matter of bad timing and probably bad judgement about the perception of those moves from David Sokol if we take into account that his portfolio turnover is dismal on a yearly basis.
On the right is a timeline of the deal between Berkshire Hathaway and Lubrizol from an article provided by the Wall Street Journal.