Buffett keen to invest in India

Our Bureau Bangalore | Updated on April 01, 2011 Published on March 22, 2011

Mr Warren Buffett

Pleading “guilty” for being a late entrant to the Indian market, American investor, philanthropist and Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Mr Warren Buffett, said India is a big market and a logical place to invest in.

“I should have been here sooner. But better late than never. India is a big market and not an emerging market… Hope I spend money here,” said Mr Buffett, who was here in the city visiting the facility of Israel-based International Metalworking Companies in which Berkshire has a majority stake.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Buffett said trade (between countries) is very important for world prosperity. “The US today exports 12 per cent of GDP — that has gone up from 5 per cent years ago. It is a good thing if we export more. Trade is important for world prosperity. The more India and China prosper, the more the US will prosper.”

The American economy, Mr Buffett said, has been improving fairly steadily month on month. “The most important thing is the underlying resilience of capitalism and the American economy — 309 million people are thinking about how to do something better tomorrow. Upheavals will happen but most economies march on and so will the US.”

Investment priorities

Queried on the factors that prompt him to make an investment, Mr Buffett said he invests only in businesses that have a future in the long term. “We don't look at industries that are changing rapidly. I am interested in industries with moderate rates of change. We also invest only in large markets. Very small markets don't fit us.”

Philanthropy is tougher than business as the market system does not give feedback on performance, said Mr Buffett, who has pledged 99 per cent of his wealth in Berkshire to charity. “Philanthropy is more difficult than business as you are tackling problems of society. But just because it is tough doesn't mean it is not important,” said Mr Buffett, who would be talking to Indian billionaires on pledging money for charity.

Commenting on the 26 per cent cap on foreign investment in insurance business in India, Mr Buffett said, “Obviously it will be attractive to have more than 26 per cent. But for the time being, we will act at the agency level rather than in underwriting.” Recently, Berkshire Hathway became the corporate agency for insurance company Bajaj Allianz.

On the Japanese tragedy, Mr Buffett said the world should do what it can to minimise the impact. “Japan is a big economy but that will not stop the world economy from growing.”

Published on March 22, 2011
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