Fresh from taking a $4.5 billion stake in diversified manufacturer Marmon, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has returned to its insurance stronghold with the purchase of ING‘s Dutch reinsurance unit for about 300 million euros ($435.2 million) and plans, unveiled in the Wall Street Journal, to set up a municipal bond insurer. The new bond insurer, Hathaway Assurance Corp is set to start operating today in New York state, and guarantee the bonds that cities, counties and states use to finance public works, the report said, quoting Buffett from an interview. The new fund poses a competitive challenge to bond insurers MBIA and Ambac, which have been struggling with the turmoil in the credit market.
Bank of America has taken a significant step forward in China, with a $615 million leasing joint venture with China Construction Bank. The venture, the first in the sector, will focus on leasing equipment and facilities to China’s power generation and transmission and rail industries. The venture aims to eventually extend and obtain loans, sell leased items, and offer consulting, among other services.
Morgan Stanley has paid $217 million for a 10 percent stake in Petrovietnam Finance Corp, the financial arm of Vietnam’s state oil firm, ahead of an expected stock market listing early next year. The company is a de facto bank for oil monopoly Petrovietnam and finances energy sector projects.
Sallie Mae, the largest U.S. educational lending company, said it sold $1 billion of convertible securities and $2 billion of common stock, raising more money than it had expected, to pay off bad derivatives bets.