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Tue, Jul 15, 2003 - Page 12 News List

More Buffett lunches wanted

BLOOMBERG

Warren Buffett, the second-richest man in the world, said he's willing to make three more lunch dates -- at US$250,000 each -- to raise more than US$1 million for a San Francisco charity.

Two, and possibly as many as three additional companies, want to match the winning bid for a date with the billionaire that was auctioned last week on EBay Inc's Web site, the head of the charity said.

Buffett, the chairman of Berk-shire Hathaway Inc, said he was pleased.

"There are three more takers, I hear," Buffett told Bloomberg News on Sunday, while attending the Allen & Co media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.

"That's great," he said.

On Friday, Greenlight Capital Inc's David Einhorn, one of the founders of the New York-based investment-management firm, placed the original winning US$250,100 bid in the EBay auction, topping 140 other offers.

Proceeds from the luncheons will go to the Glide Foundation, a non-profit group that provides programs for about 30,000 homeless and needy people. Buffett became involved with Glide after his wife introduced him to the Reverend Cecil Williams, the head of the foundation, four years ago.

Three other companies contacted Williams after the auction, agreeing to match Einhorn's bid for a similar dining experience with Buffett, Williams said on Sunday in a telephone interview from Glide's headquarters.

Williams declined to identify the companies, two of which he said have confirmed they will match the bid and one that is considering it. The companies had participated in the auction, yet fell short of the winning bid.

Williams contacted Einhorn, who agreed to allow the matching donations on the condition that Buffett play bridge with him.

"Oh, my God, it's incredible," Williams said. "It's been a hard way to go sometimes, but we've always pulled it off until two or three years ago when the bottom fell out, as it did for most people."

Glide raised less than US$33,000 annually from the Buffett auction in the past three years.

Einhorn won a lunch for eight people in New York between May 5 and May 14, although an earlier appointment can be arranged in Omaha, Nebraska, where Berkshire is based.

Williams said the other lunches would likely be held in Omaha under similar circumstances.

"I am thrilled that these other bidders saw the value of this gift for the benefit of the homeless and decided to match it," Einhorn said in a statement provided by Abernathy MacGregor Group Inc, which handles public relations for Greenlight.

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