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Buffett Shuns $22 Billion Deal to Protect Stock Holdings

The Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting
Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., talks with his daughter Susie Buffett at the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting in Omaha. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Warren Buffett, who built Berkshire Hathaway Inc. with stock picks before focusing on takeovers, said he recently opted against a $22 billion acquisition because he didn’t want to sell investments in marketable securities.

“We considered one here just a month or two ago, which we would have liked to do,” Buffett, Berkshire’s chairman and chief executive officer, said today at the company’s annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. “I would have had to sell some securities I didn’t want to sell.”

Buffett, 81, divested portions of Berkshire’s stock portfolio to help fund his $26.5 billion acquisition of railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe in 2010. Since then, he has spent more than $15 billion on stocks, while assuring Berkshire shareholders that he was seeking further takeovers.

“We wish we could have made it,” Buffett said of the deal he opted against, without naming the target company.

Berkshire’s equity portfolio, which includes the largest shareholdings of Coca-Cola Co. and Wells Fargo & Co., surged 41 percent to $89.1 billion in the 12 months ended March 31. In that period, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 6.2 percent and Buffett built what has become a $13.1 billion stake in International Business Machines Corp.

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