FRI, MAR 24, 2023
Buffett has been 'in touch' with Biden administration on banks
Warren Buffett, who has come to the rescue of troubled financial institutions in the past, has been "in touch with senior officials in President Joe Biden's administration" amid concerns about the health of regional banks, according to a report last weekend by Bloomberg.
Quoting people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg said there had been "multiple conversations" in the previous week.
"The calls have centered around Buffett possibly investing in the US regional banking sector in some way, but the billionaire has also given advice and guidance more broadly about the current turmoil."
In 2011, when Bank of America was struggling due to losses from subprime mortgages, it got what was, in effect, a $5 billion loan with an annual interest rate of 6% from Berkshire.
Three years earlier, at the height of the 2008 financial crisis, Berkshire gave Goldman Sachs a $5 billion cash infusion with a 10% annual rate.
So far, Buffett's discussions with administration officials haven't produced any public announcements.
Buffett's CEO successor buys more Berkshire shares
Greg Abel, Berkshire Hathaway's vice chairman for non-insurance operations and the person the company's recent 10-K filing said is designated to take Warren Buffett's place as CEO "should a replacement for Mr. Buffett be needed currently," bought $24.6 million worth of Berkshire stock a week ago today.
In a disclosure filed with the SEC on Tuesday, Abel says 55 Class A shares were purchased at $448,260 each by the Gregory E. Abel Revocable Trust, for the benefit of his wife, children, and other family members.
That brings his Class A ownership to 228 shares, valued at $103.3 million at today's closing price of $453,066.13.
He also holds 2263 Class B shares valued at more than $676,000.
Greg Abel at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting in Los Angeles, May 1, 2021. (Gerard Miller | CNBC)
Abel did not have a significant equity stake in Berkshire until last September when he bought 173 Class A shares for around $68 million.
At the time, CNBC Pro quoted CFRA Research analyst Cathy Seifert as saying, "It likely may represent a shift as he prepares to assume more responsibility. Not a whole lot is ever telegraphed out of Berkshire, but I think this represents a pivot point."
As Barron's points out, Abel's latest purchases came out on the same day as Berkshire's annual meeting proxy statement.
It included a new statement that board members should have "a significant investment in Berkshire shares relative to their resources for at least three years."
Barron's says Abel may have to keep buying to meet that requirement given that he sold a 1% stake in Berkshire Hathaway Energy back to that unit last year for $870 million, which could have netted him around $600 million.
SEC charges crypto entrepreneur who paid $4.6M for Buffett meal
A bit more than three years after dining with Warren Buffett as the winning $4.6 million bidder in a charity auction, Justin Sun is facing SEC charges,
It accuses him and three of his companies with the unregistered sale of Tronix (TRX) and BitTorrent (BTT) cryptocurrencies, which the agency contends are regulated securities.
Sun and his companies are also charged with "fraudulently manipulating the secondary market for TRX" in 2018 and 2019 with sham purchases and sales to "create the misleading appearance of active trading in TRX."
The SEC also charged eight celebrities, including Lindsay Lohan and Jake Paul, with "illegally touting TRX and/or BTT without disclosing that they were compensated for doing so and the amount of their compensation."
Lohan, Paul, and four of the other celebrities agreed to pay a total of more than $400,000 to settle the charges against them, without admitting or denying they did anything wrong.
In a tweet, Sun wrote:
"The SEC’s civil complaint earlier today is just the latest example of actions it has taken against well known players in the blockchain and crypto space. We believe the complaint lacks merit, and in the meantime will continue building the most decentralized financial system."
Warren Buffett and Justin Sun at the dinner Sun won in a charity auction, January 2020. (Facebook | H.E. Justin Sun)
In June 2019, after his winning bid in the "20th Annual Power Lunch with Warren Buffett" auction held on eBay, Sun told CNBC he hoped to change Buffett's negative view of cryptocurrencies, although he wasn't very optimistic.
The lunch turned into a dinner in late January 2020 at an Omaha country club,
Afterward, a news release from Sun's TRON said, "The dinner went well with the conversation surrounding the future of cryptocurrency and wise advice from Buffett."
BUFFETT AROUND THE INTERNET
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BERKSHIRE'S TOP U.S. STOCK HOLDINGS - Mar. 24, 2023
Berkshire's top holdings of disclosed publicly-traded U.S. stocks, and BYD, by market value, based on today's closing prices.
Holdings are as of December 31, 2022 as reported in Berkshire Hathaway’s 13F filing on February 14, 2023, except for:
The full list of holdings and current market values is available from CNBC.com's Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio Tracker.
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Also, Buffett's annual letters to shareholders are highly-recommended reading. There are collected here on Berkshire's website.
-- Alex Crippen, Editor, Warren Buffett Watch