Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett smiles while playing bridge after Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting on May 5, 2019 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Nati Harnik | AP
Warren Buffett donated more than $870 million in Berkshire Hathaway stock to four family foundations before Thanksgiving, assuring investors in a letter that the conglomerate was “built to last.”
The 93-year-old legendary investor donated 1.5 million Class B shares of his conglomerate to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, named after his first wife. He also donated 300,000 Class B shares to each of three foundations headed by his children: the Sherwood Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the NoVo Foundation.
“They complement some of the lifelong commitments I made in 2006 that will stand until my death (at 93 I feel good, but am fully aware that I’m playing in extra innings),” Buffett said in one Explanation.
He made similar donations on the eve of Thanksgiving last year. The “Oracle of Omaha” promised to give away the fortune he built at Berkshire, the Omaha-based conglomerate he had led since 1965. Buffett has donated to the same four charities annually since 2006.
Berkshire owns a variety of established companies, from crown jewel insurer Geico to BNSF Railway to about 6% of Apple.
The conglomerate’s shares have gained nearly 17% this year after hitting an all-time high in September.
Berkshire is built to last
In his letter, the longtime investment icon reassured Berkshire shareholders that the empire he has built over the past six decades will stand the test of time even without his oversight.
“In the short term, Berkshire’s unique characteristics and behaviors are supported by my large Berkshire holdings. “But soon, Berkshire will gain the reputation it deserves,” Buffett said. “Decline can occur in all types of large institutions, whether governmental, philanthropic or for-profit. But it is not inevitable. The advantage of Berkshire is that it is built to last.”
Greg Abel, vice chairman of non-insurance operations at Berkshire, was named Buffett’s successor. Buffett praised Abel, noting that he took on most of the responsibilities.
Buffett’s three children are the executors of his will and the named trustees of the charitable foundation that will receive almost all of Buffett’s assets.
“My children and their father share the belief that dynastic wealth, although legal and common in much of the world, including the United States, is undesirable,” Buffett said. “Moreover, we have had many opportunities to observe that wealth does not make one wise or evil.”