Sunday, May 04, 2008

Buffett on recession, future deals

Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) annual shareholders' meeting has accounted for the usual glut of Warren Buffett-related news items over the weekend.

Let's take a quick look at some of the highlights from the, "What Warren said" files.

MarketWatch reports that Berkshire Hathaway is eyeing German family-owned businesses as possible acquisition targets.

"Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is interested in acquiring family-owned businesses in Germany, Chairman Warren Buffett said Saturday.

Buffett is planning to travel to Germany and three other European countries in a few weeks to try to raise Berkshire's profile in the region, he said.

"We would like more family owners of Germany businesses who, when they feel some need to monetize their business, to think of Berkshire Hathaway," Buffett said. "If they care about their business we are their best call."

"We're nowhere near as prominent in Europe as we should be," he said."

Does Germany have some form of US-style estate tax which prompts families to sell their businesses, or are the Mittelstand companies hampered by red-tape and excessive regulation?

I am curious to know.

In any case, Berkshire Hathaway has gone global in its hunt for future acquisitions and investment opportunities.

And that's not all that Warren had to say. Both he and Charlie Munger weighed in on the risks to the financial system (Buffett feels the risks are declining) and the likelihood of a US recession (WB says we're in one now).

Here are Buffett's thoughts on the US economic picture (Reuters):

""The U.S. is in recession as I define it," Buffett said at a news conference. "I would define that as a situation where people are doing less well than they were three months, six months or eight months earlier and most businesses find themselves in that position too."

There you have it. Read on at the links below for more.

See also:

"Buffett: Recession has hit main street" - CNBC.

"Buffett hints at targets for his global buying spree" - Bloomberg.

"Live blog of Munger & Buffett Q&A session w/ shareholders" - CNBC.