Berkshire Hathaway shareholders already had plenty to squawk about heading into this weekend after Warren Buffett announced his deal to back Occidental’s bid for Anadarko Petroleum with $10 billion just days before the start of the company’s annual “Woodstock for Capitalists” in Omaha. But in what appears to be the billionaire investors’ latest ruse to shift the focus away from the disastrous performance of Kraft-Heinz and its recent leadership upheaval, the ‘Oracle of Omaha’ has decided to make another stunning revelation during an interview with CNBC that ran late Thursday: For the first time, Berkshire has bought Amazon shares, marking yet another departure from Buffett’s longstanding aversion to tech stocks.
Just like with Berkshire’s decision to trim its Apple stake, the decision to buy Amazon wasn’t made by Buffett, but by ‘one of the other fellows in the office’ – either ‘Todd or Ted’ (Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, two portfolio managers at Berkshire).
“One of the fellows in the office that manage money…bought some Amazon so it will show up in the 13F” later this month, Buffett told CNBC Thursday, on the eve of the kick off of Berkshire’s annual shareholders meeting in Omaha. Buffett was referring to either Todd Combs or Ted Weschler, who each manage portfolios of more than $13 billion in equities for Berkshire.
The 13-F reflecting Berkshire’s decision to buy won’t be out for two more weeks, but the decision to buy isn’t that much of a surprise. Buffett has expressed admiration for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, but despite his praise, he has never bought the company’s shares, something he said he’s been ‘an idiot’ for not doing.
“Yeah, I’ve been a fan, and I’ve been an idiot for not buying” Amazon shares, Buffett said. “But I want you to know it’s no personality changes taking place.”
The interview was set to air in full on Squawk Box.
Though this is the first time Berkshire has invested in Amazon, Buffett, Bezos and Jamie Dimon famously teamed up to launch a health-care venture designed to serve the employees of their companies.
Amazon shares traded higher in the pre-market on the news.
Asked about how he became involved in the Occidental deal, Buffett revealed that it was Brian Moynihan, the CEO of Bank of America, who connected him to the deal.