Buffett, Warren Edward

▪ American businessman and philanthropist
born Aug. 30, 1930, Omaha, Neb., U.S.

      American businessman and philanthropist, widely considered the most successful investor of the 20th century, having defied prevailing investment trends to amass a personal fortune of more than $60 billion.

      Known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” Buffett was the son of U.S. Representative Howard Homan Buffett from Nebraska. After graduating from the University of Nebraska (B.S., 1950), he studied with Benjamin Graham at the Columbia University School of Business (M.S., 1951). In 1956 Buffett returned to Omaha and in 1965 took majority control of the textile manufacturer Berkshire Hathaway Inc., turning it into his primary investment vehicle. From the 1960s through the '90s the major stock averages rose by roughly 11 percent annually, but Berkshire Hathaway's publicly traded shares gained about 28 percent per year. Though Buffett's success with Berkshire Hathaway made him one of the world's wealthiest men, he eschewed lavish spending and criticized governmental policies and taxation that favoured the rich over the middle or lower classes.

      In June 2006 Buffett announced that he planned to donate more than 80 percent of his wealth to a handful of private charitable foundations. The main recipient was the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—created by Microsoft founder Bill Gates (Gates, Bill) and his wife (Gates, Melinda)—which focused on issues of world health and education. Gates and Buffett had maintained a close friendship since the early 1990s, and the foundation was slated to receive Buffett's funds in increments that would eventually raise its assets to an estimated $60 billion. The other organizations receiving donations were those run by Buffett's three children and the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, named for his late wife, which focused on women's reproductive rights and funded college scholarship programs.

      In September 2008 Buffett announced plans to invest $5 billion in the U.S.-based bank holding company Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. In October 2008 Berkshire Hathaway announced plans to purchase $3 billion in General Electric Company (GE) preferred stock.

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Universalium. 2010.

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