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Mar 26, 2013

Buffett to take major Goldman Sachs stake in warrant deal

By Ben Berkowitz and Lauren Tara LaCapra

(Reuters) – Warren Buffett will become one of Goldman Sachs’ (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) ten largest shareholders essentially for free, after he and the bank amended a 2008 deal to exchange his potential profit on Goldman warrants for stock.

The exchange, which Goldman detailed on Tuesday, saves Buffett billions of dollars in upfront costs and lets Goldman minimize dilution to its stock. Under a 2008 deal, Buffett had held the right to acquire about 43.5 million shares of stock at an exercise price of $115.

Mar 26, 2013

Goldman Sachs, Berkshire amend crisis-era warrant deal

By Ben Berkowitz and Lauren Tara LaCapra

(Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) will give Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) millions of shares in the bank in place of warrants that date to the financial crisis, a deal that saves Berkshire money upfront and reduces dilution risk for Goldman.

The deal will make Berkshire, the conglomerate led by investor Warren Buffett, one of Goldman’s 10 largest shareholders.

Mar 4, 2013

MBIA wins end to banks’ lawsuit over restructuring

March 4 (Reuters) – MBIA Inc on Monday won the
dismissal of a lawsuit by Bank of America Corp and
Societe Generale SA challenging its 2009
restructuring, sending the bond insurer’s shares up as much as
25 percent.

New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kapnick said Eric
Dinallo, the state insurance superintendent at the time, was not
“arbitrary and capricious” in authorizing a split of MBIA’s
traditional municipal bond business from a structured finance
unit that had suffered big losses from guaranteeing debt backed
by risky mortgages.

Mar 1, 2013

Performance streak may end this year: Buffett

By Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) – Berkshire Hathaway may end a long streak of outperforming the S&P 500 this year, Chief Executive Warren Buffett warned shareholders on Friday, even as he said he was still eagerly hunting for acquisitions to grow the ice-cream-to-insurance conglomerate.

In his annual letter to investors, Buffett opened up with a warning that this year, for the first time, the growth in Berkshire’s book value per share may underperform the growth in the S&P 500 when measured over a five-year period.

Mar 1, 2013

Buffett: Performance streak may end this year

March 1 (Reuters) – Berkshire Hathaway may end a
long streak of outperforming the S&P 500 this year, Chief
Executive Warren Buffett warned shareholders on Friday, even as
he said he was still eagerly hunting for acquisitions to grow
the ice-cream-to-insurance conglomerate.
In his annual letter to investors, Buffett opened up with a
warning that this year, for the first time, the growth in
Berkshire’s book value per share may underperform the growth in
the S&P 500 when measured over a five-year period.
“To date, we’ve never had a five-year period of
underperformance, having managed 43 times to surpass the S&P
over such a stretch,” he wrote. “But the S&P has now had gains
in each of the last four years, outpacing us over that period.
If the market continues to advance in 2013, our streak of
five-year wins will end.”
Buffett said he expects the growth in Berkshire’s intrinsic
business value will over time exceed the S&P’s returns by small
margins. But at the same time, he said the firm would
underperform in a strong market like this year.
Long-time Berkshire investors said they detected almost a
sense of frustration in this year’s letter.
“He’s gotten away from some of the things that used to just
matter to him so much,” said Bill Smead, chief investment
officer of Smead Capital Management in Seattle. “He has so much
capital I don’t think he can just rely on a stock portfolio the
way he used to.”
Just last month, Berkshire struck a deal to put $12 billion
toward the $23 billion cash buyout of ketchup maker H.J. Heinz
Co, but Buffett said he and vice chairman Charlie Munger
were not done.
“But we still have plenty of cash and are generating more at
a good clip. So it’s back to work; Charlie and I have again
donned our safari outfits and resumed our search for elephants,”
Buffett said in the annual letter.
Berkshire reported $47 billion of cash on hand at Dec. 31.

MORE NEWSPAPERS
Buffett did not hint at what sort of companies he would like
to acquire, except to note that one thing he will buy more of is
newspapers.
Despite a years-long aversion to the business, Berkshire has
of late been buying up papers in smaller communities across the
country. Buffett said Friday he will continue to do so.
“At appropriate prices – and that means at a very low
multiple of current earnings – we will purchase more papers of
the type we like,” he said.
Berkshire employs more than 288,000 people worldwide in
dozens of business. Buffett serves as chairman, chief executive
and chief investment officer. When he leaves, at least four
people will replace him in those various roles.
Buffett’s annual shareholder letter is one of the most
closely read public statements by any investor or executive in
corporate America. It often comes out early on a Saturday
morning, and Buffett devotees have been known to set aside an
entire weekend to read and digest it.
(It was released Friday night this time for scheduling
reasons related to SEC filing deadlines).

Mar 1, 2013

Analysis: U.S. economy, more than scary crashes, threatens Nascar

By Ben Berkowitz and Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Horrific race car crashes – like the one at Daytona last week that injured about 30 spectators – are a black eye for the sport. But it’s the U.S. economy that is dragging down racetrack operators like International Speedway Corp.

International Speedway hosts about half of the annual Nascar Sprint Cup races at its dozen tracks across the country, meaning its fortunes are intricately linked to the sport’s success.

Feb 16, 2013

U.S. SEC sues over Heinz option trading before buyout

Feb 15 (Reuters) – U.S. securities regulators filed suit on
Friday against unknown traders in the options of ketchup maker
H.J. Heinz Co, alleging they traded on inside
information before the company announced a deal to be acquired
for $23 billion by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc
and Brazil’s 3G Capital.

The suit marks the second time in six months that the SEC
has taken legal action for alleged insider trading on a 3G deal.

Feb 15, 2013

Buffett, Brazil’s 3G team up for $23 billion Heinz buyout

By Ben Berkowitz and Martinne Geller

(Reuters) – Warren Buffett and Brazilian financier Jorge Paulo Lemann are teaming up to buy ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co for $23.2 billion, in what could be the first step of a wave of mergers for the food and beverage industry.

Analysts and people close to the deal said Heinz could be a good starting point to consolidate similar staple food companies, particularly given the larger ambitions of Lemann’s private equity firm 3G Capital.

Feb 14, 2013

Berkshire Hathaway, 3G Capital to buy Heinz for $23 billion cash

By Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) – Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and 3G Capital will buy ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co (HNZ.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) for $72.50 a share, or $23.2 billion in cash, Heinz said on Thursday.

Including debt assumption, Heinz valued the deal at $28 billion, which it called the largest in food industry history.

Feb 13, 2013

Obama manufacturing, wage push met with some skepticism

Feb 12 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s call for a
renaissance in American manufacturing could lead to new jobs
down the road, but his push to increase the minimum wage now
could be a harder fight, with retail groups and small businesses
opposed to the extra cost.

The president used Tuesday night’s State of the Union
address to lay out a plan to bring manufacturing jobs back to
the country, including a network of institutes that would teach
new industrial skills.

    • About Ben

      "Ben Berkowitz covers the insurance industry in New York City. He rejoined Reuters in Amsterdam in May 2009, covering the Dutch banking system and economy. He originally worked for Reuters in Los Angeles and New York from 2001 to 2006 covering everything from video games to oil. In between he was business editor at AOL, head of the editing desk at AP Business News and managing editor of Fidelity.com."
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