May 7 - Billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett plays down health concerns, playing up the company's piggy bank for a multi-billion dollar acquisition. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Warren Buffett downplayed a health scare related to cancer at this year's annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting, facing down a five-hour interrogation by nervous investors worried about the lack of public disclosure about his successor. Buffett, who is chairman of his company's board, hosted the weekend event which is attended by tens of thousands of the conglomerate's shareholders. One of the other headlines to emerge include Buffett's decision to set aside money for a multi-billion acquisition. SOUNDBITE: WARREN BUFFETT, CHAIRMAN, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Ideally we would spend about 20 billion (dollars). That would be about as much as I would feel comfortable spending now. But I would settle for $10 billion." At that rate, such a deal would compare to Berkshire's $26-1/2 billion takeover of railroad company Burlington Northern Sante Fe back in 2010. And while Buffett is looking for his next big deal, he's doing some nibbling in the stock market, where he says he sees value. SOUNDBITE: WARREN BUFFETT, CHAIRMAN, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think stocks are, compared to other assets, if anything attractively priced; not as attractive as they were a few years ago but I would rather own stocks - I'd rather own productive businesses and stocks represent that. I would rather own those productive businesses than any other asset." And what's the so-called Oracle of Omaha's take on the U.S. economy? He's not as downbeat as some. SOUNDBITE: WARREN BUFFETT, CHAIRMAN, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I will say we are coming out of a extraordinary panic of sorts, which turned out to produce a severe recession in the general economy and a depression in the housing economy and that's a blow that has not been delivered to America for many decades and it is a tough hole to work out of but I think we have done really well in coming out of it." As far as Europe goes - Buffett is not scared-off by the trouble - saying he'd love to make a big purchase there. Conway Gittens, Reuters.