Buffett's Berkshire takes stake in Japan trading firms

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 31 2020 11:13 AM

A passenger wearing a face mask travels on a train in Tokyo on April 7, 2020. - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on April 7 declared a month-long state of emergency in Tokyo and six other parts of the country over a spike in coronavirus cases. Philip Fong, AFP

TOKYO - Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has acquired 5 percent stakes in 5 leading Japanese trading companies, it said in a statement on Monday.

The stakes are valued at more than $6 billion according to Bloomberg News, and were acquired over approximately a year through regular purchases on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Berkshire said.

The stakes are in Itochu Corp, Marubeni Corp, Mitsubishi Corp, Mitsui & Co and Sumitomo Corp, and Berkshire said it plans to "hold its Japanese investments for the long term".

Berkshire said it could increase its holdings up to 9.9 percent in any of the 5 firms, but added it would not exceed that cap "unless given specific approval by the investee's board of directors".

Berkshire Hathaway is the holding company of Buffett, who is considered one of the world's savviest investors and has amassed a $72-billion fortune -- the world's fourth-largest, according to Forbes magazine.

But even he has suffered setbacks during the pandemic, particularly on investments in the airline industry.

In the statement, Buffett said he was "delighted" to participate in the Japanese firms and he hoped there would be "opportunities of mutual benefit".

News of the purchases sent stock in all 5 firms soaring, with Marubeni Corp up 10.18 percent to 643.7 yen, Sumitomo Corp up 9 percent to 1,373.5 yen, Mitsubishi Corp up 8.72 percent to 2.536 yen, Mitsui & Co up 6.47 to 1,898.5 yen and Itochu Corp up 4.49 percent to 2,731.5 yen.

The Nikkei as a whole was higher, up 1.20 percent at the open on Monday.