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Archive for Saturday, August 16, 2003

Billionaire to focus on business, not politics

August 16, 2003

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— Investors in Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. should relax, the Omaha, Neb., billionaire said Friday.

Buffett, 72, said his foray into politics as an adviser to actor and California gubernatorial hopeful Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't a sign he's beginning to pull away from his duties as chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, one of the most expensive stocks on Wall Street, closing Friday at $75,000 per share. Buffett doesn't believe in stock splits, a device that keeps most stocks' prices much lower.

"Nothing I'm doing should be viewed as a step toward retirement," Buffett said at news conference after the grand opening of his company's Nebraska Furniture Mart store adjacent to the Kansas Speedway in western Wyandotte County.

Instead, Buffett said he was simply helping a friend, who he believes has a "very quality mind" that can help solve many of California's problems.

And Buffett said his role as an adviser was not a sign he's about to change political parties. Buffett is a Democrat. Schwarzenegger is a Republican.

"That doesn't make any difference to me," Buffett said. "If you are fighting in a war and someone is providing cover for you, my guess is you don't care whether he is a Republican or a Democrat."

Besides, Buffett said, getting involved in solving California's financial problems makes good business sense.

"Everybody in Nebraska, everybody in Kansas, everybody in Missouri has an interest in California," Buffett said. "It is a big economy. You can't have problems out there without it chilling the rest of the economy."

But he said there was a limit to what he's willing to do. He said he would not serve in Schwarzenegger's administration if the actor was elected. But he didn't rule out advising other political candidates in the future.

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