Berkshire Hathaway Acquires 5% Passive Stake in Five Leading Japanese Trading Companies


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Berkshire Hathaway’s wholly owned subsidiary, National Indemnity Company has acquired slightly more than 5% of the outstanding shares in five of the leading Japanese trading companies. The companies include Itochu, Marubeni, Mitsubishi, Mitsui and Sumitomo. These holdings were acquired over a period of approximately 12 months through regular purchases on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Berkshire Hathaway, the largest company in the U.S. as measured by shareholders’ equity, has a long history of substantial, passive holdings in successful businesses. For instance, Berkshire Hathaway has held major stakes in Coca-Cola for 32 years, American Express for 29 years and Moody’s for 20 years.

Berkshire Hathaway’s intention is to hold its Japanese investments for the long term. Depending on price, Berkshire Hathaway may increase its holdings up to a maximum of 9.9% in any of the five investments. However, Warren E. Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, has pledged that the company will make purchases only up to an ownership of 9.9% in any of the five investments. The company will make no purchases beyond that point unless given specific approval by the investee’s board of directors.

“I am delighted to have Berkshire Hathaway participate in the future of Japan and the five companies we have chosen for investment,” Buffett says. “The five major trading companies have many joint ventures throughout the world and are likely to have more of these partnerships. I hope that in the future there may be opportunities of mutual benefit.”

Berkshire Hathaway has 625.5 billion of yen-denominated bonds outstanding, maturing at various dates beginning in 2023 and ending in 2060. Consequently, the company has only minor exposure to yen/dollar movements.