It's minor, says Warren Buffet; shrugs off health concerns, jokes on succession

  • Ben Berkowitz, Reuters, Omaha, Nebraska
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  • Updated: May 06, 2012 10:25 IST

Infestment guru Warren Buffett tried to allay fears of Berkshire Hathaway Inc shareholders about the company's future after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Buffett, 81, called it "a really minor event"- but his early-stage prostate cancer was a reminder that he is mortal and would be hard to replace. That made the future of Berkshire, with or without Buffett, a central focus of five hours of questions at its annual meeting on Saturday.

Buffett was upbeat about Berkshire's prospects, despite slow US economic growth and its inability - as well as of other countries - to get their fiscal houses in order.

"I would stay away from medium- or long-term government bonds, our own or those of other countries," he said.

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Buffett also said that despite his huge investment in IBM Corp, which topped $11.7 billion at year end, he would not plunge into other technology giants such as Apple and Google.

"The chances of being way wrong in IBM are probably less, at least for us," than in Google or Apple, Buffett said.

Buffett said he had recently considered a more than $20 billion acquisition.  "I wish we could have made it," he said. "It could (still) happen (but) I don't think it will happen."

A takeover of that magnitude would have been close in size to Berkshire's biggest takeover, the $26.5 billion purchase of railroad company Burlington Northern Santa Fe in 2010.

 

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