Buffett’s Big Week: Billionaire Fanboys, Hackers, a Megadeal

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Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Annual Shareholders Meeting

Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

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

1. He announced one of his largest deals ever Monday -- a $37.2 billion buyout of Precision Castparts Corp., an aerospace parts manufacturer you’d probably never heard of. The company makes turbine blades and fasteners for companies like General Electric Co., Boeing Co. and Airbus Group SE. 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 $5.6 billion stake in Mondelez International Inc. (of Oreo-cookie fame) and plans to push it to cut costs just as Buffett’s partners, 3G Capital, are doing at Kraft Heinz Co.

3. If one billionaire fanboy wasn’t enough, Larry Page joined the mix on Monday. His plan to restructure Google Inc. -- 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 Inc.

4. Hackers attacked press-release distribution businesses, including one that Berkshire owns. On Tuesday, U.S. 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 Corp., the life insurer in which Berkshire owns a 17 percent stake, agreed Tuesday to sell itself to Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. for about $3.8 billion. All in all, “a great deal for shareholders,” Buffett said.

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