Buffett’s Iscar Saw Recession as Opportunity, Chairman Says

March 22 (Bloomberg) -- Eitan Wertheimer, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Iscar Metalworking Cos., called the global recession “an opportunity” for his company.

Iscar, an Israeli manufacturer of precision cutting tools, didn’t lay off employees and hired away workers from competitors, Wertheimer said today at a session on Israel investment strategies at the Bloomberg Link Sovereign Debt Conference in Frankfurt. He emphasized the research and development abilities of Israeli staff.

Iscar, based in Tefen, northern Israel, makes cutting gear for industries ranging from aerospace to auto manufacturing, for clients including Toyota Motor Corp. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire paid $4 billion in 2006 for an 80 percent stake in Iscar, which has more than 10,000 employees around the world.

“Warren in his first visit in Israel said: ‘I came to the Mideast looking for talent and I stopped in Israel,’” Wertheimer said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alisa Odenheimer in Jerusalem at aodenheimer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net