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Buffett: My political views should not affect Berkshire Investments



Berkshire Hathaway


BRK.A 1.46%

Chief Executive

Warren Buffett

Said it would be "ridiculous" for the conglomerate not to do business with gunmakers, and he did not want to impose his political views on Berkshire's investment decisions or business transactions.

American corporations have generally stayed away from politically sensitive areas debates, but some companies have assessed their exposure to weapons problems or restricted links with the National Rifle Association after high school shooting in Florida and pressure from school students.

Berkshire has no weapons manufacturers, He said on CNBC, but there's no rule that they would not. "I think what the kids do is very admirable, but I do not think Berkshire should say that we will not do business with people who own weapons," Mr. Buffet said on CNBC. "I think that would be ridiculous."

The Omaha billionaire reported recent battles during a CNBC interview on Monday

Wells Fargo

& Co. and Berkshire owned the airlines on a new health initiative and Berkshires cash pile. Cash and cash equivalents reached $ 116 billion at the end of 2017 and pressure on Berkshire to return capital to shareholders. Buffett said he thinks Berkshire will find better use for the money, but if it returns money to shareholders, it's likely to be about repurchases, not dividends.

"The bias could be more to repurchase than dividends, because dividends have the implicit promise that you will pay them forever," he says. Berkshire has already said that stocks will be bought back when prices drop to or below 120% of their book value, and Buffett says the threshold could rise in the future. "We would do what makes the most sense for shareholders," he said.

Berkshire Hathaway's recent partnership with JPMorgan Chase and Amazon to reduce healthcare costs for its employees has a broader goal of bringing these costs down beyond the three companies, Buffett said.

Businesses could reduce health care spending by bargaining power by 3 to 4 percent, but the initiative still needs to go further. Amazon CEO

Jeff Bezos

and Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPM, are perfect partners, he said, "because we can make a difference, our companies are big, but we can make a difference, we do not have the bureaucratic problems or the electoral issues," the other big companies to have.

The effort could not take the form of a new company, Mr. Buffett said. It is "just a joint effort now" and could take the form of a partnership or something else. The main goal now is to hire a CEO, he said.

He also explained why he was the

Kraft Heinz

Brett, an exit announced Friday. At 87, he said he no longer wanted to be on any external boards, but his outlook on the company was unchanged.

"We will not change a stake" in Berkshire's stakes in Kraft Heinz, he said. "I do not want to stand on any outside boards, it's time consuming and I do not have that much time."

Two Berkshire employees,

Greg Abel

and

Tracy Britt Cool,

will stay on the board. The seat of Mr. Buffett is filled out

Alexandre Van Damme,

Who is not a Berkshire employee? Mr. Buffett, who praised him and indicated that he is a personal shareholder of Kraft Heinz, said: "He will be a much better director than me, and he likes to travel."

When asked about Wells Fargo, Mr. Buffett reiterated earlier comments and said the bank had bad incentives and that the company's management was wrong in not responding quickly enough when it became aware of problems. He said that he thinks Wells Fargos has problems in the past.

Write to Nicole Friedman at [email protected]


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