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Is Occidental the Megadeal Warren Buffett’s Been Waiting For?

His recent investment in the rebounding oil producer has investors wondering whether this becomes the next—and potentially biggest—acquisition for cash-rich Berkshire Hathaway.

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Illustration: Martin Groch for Bloomberg Businessweek

After swooping in to help shale producer Occidental Petroleum Corp. win a bidding war for Anadarko Petroleum by buying $10 billion of Oxy’s preferred stock in 2019 and then quietly buying up a sizable stake in its regular shares in the months that followed, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. suddenly disappeared from the common stock in 2020, giving no reason for the storied investor’s about-face.

Now, Buffett is once again on the Occidental bandwagon—and with more momentum than ever. Just as billionaire investor Carl Icahn exited his own stake in Occidental, Berkshire disclosed in a regulatory filing in March a rekindled interest that quickly snowballed into a buying spree. In just a few weeks, Berkshire stacked up an investment worth about $7.7 billion on top of its preferred stock holding, making it the biggest shareholder at Occidental and landing the company among the conglomerate’s top 10 equity bets.