Buffet to stage $5BN shootout to find his successor

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by myboyDWade, May 6, 2007.

  1. Warren Buffett on Sunday said the $5bn hostile bid for Dow Jones by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is part of a trend that will see an increasing number of newspapers owned by tycoons motivated by more than financial returns.

    Mr Buffett, who has a large stake in The Washington Post and owns the Buffalo News, said: ”I think Rupert would acknowledge that part of his interest in the Wall Street Journal [owned by Dow Jones] goes beyond economics”.

    Mr Murdoch’s bid has been rejected by the Bancroft family, which controls Dow Jones, despite being pitched at a premium of more than 60 per cent to Dow Jones’ share price.

    Speaking after the annual meeting of his Berkshire Hathaway investment vehicle, Mr Buffett said several investors were prepared to pay more than newspapers’ instrinsic worth because of the power and exposure they confer. “I think you will see newspapers drift to owners that are motivated in part by non-economic factors.” Mr Buffett is thought unlikely to counter bid but said others might enter the fray.

    On Saturday, he told investors he wanted to hire up to four senior investment managers, give them as much as $5bn (£2.5bn) each and see how they perform in a financial shoot-out to pick his successor as Berkshire investment chief.

    He told 27,000 investors gathered in his native Omaha that he had received more than 600 applications since beginning the search for a chief investment officer in February.

    “We are looking for one or more. I don’t think it’s impossible we could find three or four and . . . give them a chunk of money – $2bn, $3bn, $5bn – and have them manage it for some time,” he said in a six-hour session of questions and answers.

    The “Sage of Omaha” has said repeatedly he is in fine health and does not want to retire. However, uncertainty over who will succeed the 76-year-old investor upon his death has weighed on the share price of Berkshire, the US insurance-to-clothing conglomerate he has built.

    Mr Buffett, Berkshire’s chief executive and chief investment officer, wants the next generation of leaders to split the roles. He has said he has three, unnamed, internal candidates for the chief executive position.

    During the meeting, Mr Buffett criticised the “electronic herd” of hedge fund managers, saying their fast trades in and out of assets were a “fool’s game”. However, he said the crisis in the US subprime market, which he called “dumb lending and dumb borrowing”, was unlikely to spread to the rest of the economy.

    He also warned that American companies’ current era of unprecedented profit growth and benign economic conditions could be brought to an abrupt end by growing political and financial risks.

    “Corporate America is living in the best of all worlds, and history has shown that those conditions don’t persist indefinitely,” he said.

    Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
  2. I better get my application in, lol
  3. This has Reality Show written all over it.