Mon, Feb 25, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Buffett dreams of giant acquisition, no successor yet

AFP, WASHINGTON

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has yet to name a successor and at age 88 still dreams of making an “elephant-sized” acquisition, he said in his annual letter to shareholders.

The letter to shareholders of Buffett’s holding company, Berkshire Hathaway Inc, is considered a must-read on Wall Street, distilling the views of the “Oracle of Omaha” on the state of the economy and the wisdom of investing in this or that investment product.

In the latest edition, Buffett said it is the prospect of an “elephant-sized acquisition” that causes his heart, and that of his longtime partner, 95-year-old Charlie Munger, “to beat faster.”

“In the years ahead, we hope to move much of our excess liquidity into businesses that Berkshire will permanently own,” he said.

“The immediate prospects for that, however, are not good: Prices are sky-high for businesses possessing decent long-term prospects,” he added.

At the moment, Berkshire Hathaway has more than US$100 billion in liquid assets that would be rapidly available if an opportunity should present itself.

The investor remained silent on who might succeed him as Berkshire’s chief executive officer, but he was unstinting in his praise of his two lieutenants, who since last year have taken the reins of essential day-to-day operations: vice chairman of insurance operations Ajit Jain and vice chairman of non-insurance operations Greg Abel.

The decision to give them a more central role was “overdue,” he said.

One of the two men is expected to succeed Buffett.

“Berkshire is now far better managed than when I alone was supervising operations,” he said.

In terms of results, the year did not end well for Buffett. His bet on Kraft Heinz Co, maker of the famous ketchup and instant macaroni and cheese, erased nearly US$3 billion from Berkshire’s bottom line, which nonetheless posted US$4 billion in earnings.

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