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Mon, Jul 02, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Buffett lunch goes for US$650,100 in annual auction


Two investors put in the winning bid of US$650,100 in a charity auction to have lunch with billionaire Warren Buffett.

Mohnish Pabrai, who will put up most of the money, said on Saturday he will be well-prepared by the time he meets the famed investor.

"I'll probably download the menu and see what we want so we don't waste our time looking at the menu," Pabrai said.

Pabrai, who manages about US$600 million for Pabrai Investment Funds in California, teamed up with a friend to bid US$30,000 more than the top bid from last year's auction. The 43-year-old investor said he bid unsuccessfully in the previous four auctions.

"We are elated," Pabrai said. "We wanted to make sure that this year we blew everyone out of the water."

Pabrai said he is planning to ask Buffett about parenting and philanthropy as he sets up his own foundation to help extremely poor children in India get private tutoring to get into elite Indian technical colleges.

The auction, which ended on Friday night, benefits the Glide Foundation, which provides social services to the poor and homeless in San Francisco.

Pabrai, his wife and two daughters will join his bidding partner, Guy Spier of Aquamarine Capital Management LLC, and Spier's wife at the lunch with Buffett, the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. The group will dine at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in New York City.

Pabrai -- who attributes much of his own success to learning from Buffett and a few other investors -- said he will pay two-thirds of the winning bid.

"I'm shamelessly kind of plagiarizing their concepts and have gained tremendously financially as a result," he said. "Beyond the financial part, I think the best thing about Warren has nothing to do with investing. It has everything to do with leading a great life."

According to eBay records of the auction there were 72 offers from pre-qualified bidders.

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