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Buffett’s big week: Billionaire fanboys, hackers, mega deal

Aug 12 2015 11:11
Noah Buhayar

Seattle - It’s been a busy stretch of days for Warren Buffett and his Berkshire Hathaway. Here’s what you've missed if you were enjoying your August break somewhere off the grid:

1. He announced one of his largest deals ever on Monday - a $37.2bn buyout of Precision Castparts, an aerospace parts manufacturer you’d probably never heard of. The company makes turbine blades and fasteners for companies like General Electric, Boeing and Airbus Group. It’s run by this guy. And, the deal is a bet that increasing world travel will buoy the aerospace industry for years to come.

2. Billionaire Bill Ackman wants a piece of the action that Buffett has been getting in the food industry. The activist hedge-fund manager amassed a $5.6bn stake in Mondelez International (of Oreo-cookie fame) and plans to push it to cut costs just as Buffett’s partners, 3G Capital, are doing at Kraft Heinz.

3. If one billionaire fanboy wasn’t enough, Larry Page joined the mix on Monday. His plan to restructure Google - so that all units outside its main Web businesses like search, advertising, and YouTube will be split off and run independently - has some echoes of Berkshire. Page will be chief executive officer of the new holding company, Alphabet.

4. Hackers attacked press-release distribution businesses, including one that Berkshire owns. On Tuesday, US authorities arrested several men who allegedly infiltrated computer systems used by corporations to report sensitive information like earnings, and then made millions of dollars trading on the confidential data. Business Wire, the Berkshire unit, said it was cooperating with authorities and has hired a cybersecurity firm to investigate the breach.

5. Symetra Financial Corportaion, the life insurer in which Berkshire owns a 17% stake, agreed on Tuesday to sell itself to Sumitomo Life Insurance for about $3.8bn. All in all, “a great deal for shareholders,” Buffett said.

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