Buffett’s Berkshire Lifts Japanese Bets, Eyes More Stock Buys, Deals



  • Warren Buffett has boosted his Japan bets and wants to buy more shares and partner on big deals.
  • Berkshire Hathaway owns about 7.4% of Japan’s five largest trading houses, Buffett told Nikkei.
  • Berkshire originally spent about $6 billion to establish 5% stakes in each of the companies.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has boosted its bets on five Japanese companies, and wants to grow its stakes further and partner on big deals, Nikkei reported in a pair of stories on Tuesday.

The famed investor’s conglomerate now owns about 7.4% of ItochuMarubeniMitsubishiMitsui, and Sumitomo, Buffett told the newspaper. The combined value of the five positions is likely around $14 billion, a Markets Insider analysis shows.

“We’re very proud of that,” Buffett told Nikkei about the investments. The 93-year-old billionaire suggested his company may join forces with one or more of Japan’s five largest trading houses in the months and years ahead.

“We don’t think it’s impossible that we will partner with them at some point in the future in a specific deal,” Buffett said. “We would love if any of the five would come to us ever and say, ‘We’re thinking of doing something very big or we’re about to buy something and we would like a partner or whatever.'”

Berkshire originally spent about $6 billion to amass 5% stakes in each of the five Japanese companies, and first disclosed the positions in August 2020. Berkshire ramped up its wagers on the “sogo shosha” to between 6.2% and 6.8% by November last year, meaning it had a total of about $11 billion riding on them at the time. 

The five stocks rose between 2.1% (Mitsubishi) and 4.6% (Marubeni) on Tuesday, as investors welcomed Buffett’s vote of confidence. They have gained an average of 121% since Buffett revealed his investments in them.

Buffett also spoke to Nikkei about Berkshire’s unusual wager on Taiwan Semiconductor. The investor’s company amassed a $4 billion stake in Taiwan Semiconductor in the third quarter of last year, then promptly slashed the holding by 86% during the next three months.

Geopolitical tensions between the US and China over Taiwan were “a consideration” in the share sales, and Berkshire found better places to deploy its capital, Buffett said.

Close followers of the investor won’t be surprised to learn his company has bolstered its Japan bets. Berkshire recently disclosed plans to issue yen-denominated bonds, which help to hedge against the yen falling against the greenback and devaluing its Japanese equities in dollar terms.


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