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Buffett’s Big Bet On Energy

One of America’s most legendary investors, Warren Buffett, plans to invest heavily in energy, he revealed during the annual shareholders’ meeting of his principal investment vehicle Berkshire Hathaway.

MarketWatch reports that Buffett spoke about future energy investments during the Q-and-A session after the meeting, saying Berkshire Hathaway will in the future generate as much wind power as its Iowa utility customers currently use. The executive in charge of Berkshire’s non-insurance operations, Gregory Abel, added that the company was currently focused on renewable energy in Iowa, but it would expand beyond this single state slowly but surely.

The company will also be phasing out coal power generation capacity. Fox News anchor Liz Claman tweeted during the annual meeting that Abel had pledged zero coal for power generation in Berkshire’s Nevada utility by 2023, which shareholders applauded.

At the same time, Buffett dismissed the need for sustainability reporting that a lot of activist shareholders had insisted on. Berkshire Hathaway, according to him, was successful in part because of its habit of keeping “needless reporting” and expenses to a minimum. The company’s “batting average” in the sustainability area was pretty good, Buffett went on to say, noting that Berkshire preferred having individual investors as shareholders rather than institutions, which effectively removes the activist shareholder threat.

Joining the renewable drive is only natural given the growing prominence alternatives to oil and gas are gaining. Yet Buffett is not putting all his eggs in one basket, of course. Last month, Berkshire Hathaway provided Occidental Petroleum with US$10 billion in financing for its proposed takeover of peer Anadarko. The financing will be released if the ongoing negotiations result in a deal, but analysts have already noted the move is unusual for Buffett who has said he would not partake in hostile takeovers, which Oxy’s bid for Anadarko certainly looks like.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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