FRI, NOV 24, 2023
Buffett prepares to pass philanthropic baton to his children
Warren Buffett told shareholders this week his three children, who are between 65 and 70, which is "hard for their father to believe," are the executors of his current will and also the "named trustees of the charitable trust that will receive 99%-plus of my wealth pursuant to the provisions of the will."
He writes, "They were not fully prepared for this awesome responsibility in 2006, but they are now."
That was the year, as detailed in a Fortune article, Buffett started his annual mid-year donations of Berkshire shares to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as a foundation named for his first wife, and three foundations run by his children.
He laid out a schedule in which the number of shares decreases by 5% each year.
Howard, Susie, Warren, and Peter Buffett at the 2011 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. (Photo: AP | Nati Harnik)
The announcement about his children's new roles came in comments by Buffett in a Berkshire news release detailing additional Thanksgiving gifts of shares worth more than $866 million to the four family foundations.
It's the same number of shares as when he started what may become a new holiday tradition last year with donations worth around $759 million, but the value is higher due to a 14.2% increase in the price of Berkshire's B shares since then.
Buffett writes that the three children must "act unanimously" as they administer the charitable trust, which will have a "broad" charter.
"Laws in respect to philanthropy will change from time to time, and wise trustees above ground are preferable to any strictures written by someone long gone."
In addition, the trust will be "self-liquidating after a decade or so and operate with a lean staff."
"After my death, the disposition of my assets will be an open book – no 'imaginative' trusts or foreign entities to avoid public scrutiny but rather a simple will available for inspection at the Douglas County Courthouse."
Bill and Melinda Gates join Warren Buffett at a news conference in June 2006, announcing the Gates Foundation would be getting substantial annual donations of Berkshire stock from the Omaha billionaire. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Buffett's move to put his children in charge of the trust may be bad news for the Gates Foundation.
He told it in 2006 that he was "irrevocably committing to make annual gifts ... throughout my lifetime," but that he would "soon write a new will that will provide for a continuance of this commitment – by distribution of the remaining earmarked shares or in some other manner – after my death."
We don't know if that is still his intention, but it seems notable that the Gates Foundation is not mentioned in Buffett's comments as he gives his children a lot of discretion over the leftover Berkshire shares after he dies.
There have already been suggestions the Gates Foundation contributions could end when Buffett dies.
Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, which supports abortion rights, was expecting it would get the remainder of Buffett's fortune.
Berkshire sells stake in Indian digital payments company
A QR code of Paytm is seen at a mobile repairing shop in Kolkata, India, November 9, 2021. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Berkshire Hathaway has sold its entire 2.5% stake in the parent company of the Indian digital payment company Paytm.
Citing exchange data, CNBC TV-18 reports Berkshire received around $164 million from today's sale, booking a loss of $72 million after investing around $300 million in 2018.
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BERKSHIRE'S TOP U.S. STOCK HOLDINGS - Nov. 24, 2023
Berkshire's top holdings of disclosed publicly-traded stocks in the U.S., Japan, and Hong Kong, by market value, based on today's closing prices.
Holdings are as of September 30, 2023 as reported in Berkshire Hathaway’s 13F filing on November 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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