Warren Buffett’s investment company Berkshire Hathaway has made a $3.5 billion profit though the sale of its shares in Chinese oil firm PetroChina.
Buffett said the sale was based solely on price, rebuffing suggestions he was reacting to criticism of PetroChina’s links with Sudan. Earlier this year some shareholders had urged Berkshire to sell its PetroChina stake because of the Sudan issue. Berkshire bought 11% of PetroChina’s public shares in 2006 for $500 million.
In May, at Berkshire’s annual general meeting rebel shareholders argued that PetroChina - through its government-owned parent China National Petroleum - was too closely linked with the Sudanese government. Sudan’s government continues to be criticized by Western governments for atrocities in the troubled Darfur region. The rebel proposal to sell the PetroChina stake, which Buffett opposed, was successfully defeated. At the time, Buffett said that while conditions in Darfur were deplorable, selling the PetroChina investment would not improve them. Separately, the 67-year-old denied this week that he was interested in buying troubled US lender Bear Stearns.
The bank has been badly hit by bad investments in the US sub-prime mortgage sector, which has seen record loan defaults this year. Nicknamed the “sage of Omaha” because of his success with investments, Buffett is worth an estimated $52.4 billion. (BBC)