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Sunday, October 25, 2020

“Oracle of Omaha”celebrates 90th birthday

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Warren Edward Buffett, one of the most successful investors of all time, was born on August 30th, 1930 in Omaha, Nebraska. As the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, he owns more than 60 companies, including insurer GEICO, battery maker Duracell, clothing company Fruit of the Loom as well as soft ice and fast-food restaurant chain Dairy Queen.

He is the second of three children and the only son of U.S. congressman Howard Homan Buffett, whose parents had emigrated from Scandinavia, and Leila Stahl, whose family came from present-day Estonia, then a part of the Russian Empire.

Buffett began his amazing career by selling soft drinks and chewing gum door to door at the age of six and bought his first stocks at the age of 11, shortly after the outbreak of the Pacific War. He first filed taxes at the age of 13 after earning a gross income of more than 500 US dollars.

His father convinced him to attend Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania from 1947 to 1949, but he actually received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln in 1950. Rejected by Harvard University, he then graduated from Columbia University with a Master of Science in Economics in 1951.

Until 1954 Buffett worked at Buffett-Falk & Company as an investment salesman and from 1954 to 1956 at Graham-Newman Corporation in New York as a securities analyst. In 1956 he formed Buffett Partnership, Limited with family members and friends in his home town.

Despite being extremely profitable, he decided to close the company 1969 out of integrity, because he no longer expected to be able to fulfill the investor’s growing expectations. Instead, Buffett assumed the position he holds until today at Berkshire Hathaway, originally a cotton goods producer he had taken over in 1965.

As of August 2020, Buffett has a net worth of $79 billion. Nevertheless, he continues to live in the same home he purchased in 1958 for 31,500 US dollars. That reflects his frugality, though by no means miserliness.

The billionaire and philanthropist, known as the “Oracle of Omaha” for his accurate predictions, has promised to donate over 99% of his wealth. So far he has given almost $39 billion US dollars away.

Part of those profits came from a small participations in PetroChina and BYD, a once obscure mobile phone producer that is now one of China’s largest electric vehicle and electric battery makers.

Financial analyst Mario Gabelli (born 1942) underscores Buffett’s patience, ability to focus and farsightedness. He combines a purposeful, old-style business mentality with sophistication, politeness and friendliness.

Buffett finds time to read five newspapers daily, beginning with the Omaha World-Herald, founded in 1885 and which he acquired in 2011.

In his witty speeches, including those at the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting he presides, Buffett presents serious business topics with humor. The event, which regularly draws over 20,000 visitors from both the United States and abroad, received the nickname “Woodstock of Capitalism”.

In 1949, to impress a young woman he liked, Buffett bought an ukulele, a diminutive string instrument originated in the 19th century as a Hawaiian adaptation of the Portuguese machete, and has been playing it ever since on all kinds of occasions.

In 2012, Buffett underwent a successful 44-day radiation treatment for early prostate cancer. Although he has breakfast at McDonald’s every morning and drinks five Cokes a day, the tycoon remains in good health.

While in 2016 Buffett supported presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, he recently stated that he would judge current President Donald Trump’s performance regarding national safety as well as economic growth and participation before the upcoming 2020 election.

Buffett married his longtime companion, Astrid Menks born in 1946 in Soviet-occupied Latvia, on his 76th birthday in 2006. He met the cocktail waitress in the club where his former wife Susan Thompson (1932-2004) performed occasionally before she moved out of their common home in 1977. They had three children: Susan Alice (born 1953), Howard Graham (born 1954) and Peter Andrew (born 1958).

As an avid bridge fan who allegedly dedicates 12 hours a week to the game, Buffett often plays with his old friend Bill Gates (born 1955), cofounder of Microsoft Corporation and even wealthier.

Together they launched the Giving Pledge in 2010, a campaign to encourage extremely well-to-do people to contribute a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes nowadays supported by 204 members.

For decades Buffett has also closely followed Creighton University Bluejays and University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, attending as many games of these two football teams as his schedule permits.

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