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Buffett gets ready to address Sokol matter at Berkshire Hathaway meeting

April 30, 2011 |  7:37 am

The doors opened at 7 a.m. and fans who waited in a cold drizzle to get into Omaha’s Qwest Center bolted for the front rows to claim seats.

Slow down, boomed a voice over the loudspeaker.

A rock concert? Hardly.

It’s the annual shareholders meeting of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., and die-hard fans wanted to get as close as possible to their guru.

The annual extravaganza is expected to draw up to 40,000 people this year, and many of those make a long weekend of it.

“It’s just a great little mid-spring break for seniors,” said Jack Van Dame, 75, of Chincoteague, Va., after nabbing a second-row seat.

This year’s meeting will take on a more serious tone than previous years as Buffett is expected to address the controversy over ex-Berkshire executive David Sokol, who resigned suddenly last month as the company disclosed that he pocketed a $3-million profit by purchasing stock in a business that Berkshire later agreed to acquire at his urging.

Many shareholders want him to address the issue and put it to rest.

“I think he’ll dispose of it satisfactorily today," Van Dame said.

-- Walter Hamilton