Buf­fett to we­b­cast Berk­shire meet­ing on Ya­hoo

The Pak Banker - - BUSINESS -

War­ren Buf­fett's Berk­shire Hath­away Inc (BRKa.N) plans to we­b­cast its an­nual meet­ing for the first time, al­low­ing the largest U. S. share­holder gath­er­ing to reach a global au­di­ence through Ya­hoo Inc's (YHOO.O) fi­nance page.

View­ers will be able to watch Buf­fett, Berk­shire's 85- year- old chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, and Vice Chair­man Char­lie Munger, 92, field five hours of ques­tions on April 30 from share­hold­ers, re­porters and an­a­lysts about the Omaha, Ne­brask­abased com­pany, in­vest­ing, the econ­omy and life.

The we­b­cast of­fers a chance "to reach more peo­ple than ever, in key fi­nan­cial cen­ters" and "to bring the en­ergy and ex­cite­ment of what hap­pens in Omaha to an in­formed au­di­ence around the world," Buf­fett, known as the "or­a­cle of Omaha," said in a state­ment on Tues­day.

The we­b­cast may help Ya­hoo at­tract ad­ver­tis­ers en­ticed by mil­lions of po­ten­tial on­line view­ers. Ya­hoo's core In­ter­net busi­ness has strug­gled, and CEO Marissa Mayer has sig­naled she might put the busi­ness up for sale.

Andy Serwer, Ya­hoo Fi­nance's editor in chief, told CNBC that Ya­hoo could sell ads for the live stream, and said Buf­fett had called him in De­cem­ber to ask if a we­b­cast was pos­si­ble. "He said, 'I just want to make it big­ger,'" Serwer said. "There's a lot of de­mand, par­tic­u­larly in places like China."

Ya­hoo shares closed up $2.24, or 8.3 per­cent, at $29.28. Berk­shire owns nearly 90 busi­nesses, among which are BNSF rail­road, Dairy Queen ice cream, Fruit of the Loom un­der­wear, Geico car in­sur­ance and See's can­dies. Most are in the United States, and the we­b­cast could help Buf­fett mar­ket Berk­shire to sellers of busi­nesses else­where.

Last year's an­nual meet­ing drew roughly 40,000 peo­ple to Omaha to cel­e­brate Buf­fett's 50th an­niver­sary at the helm. At­ten­dance be­gan to swell af­ter Berk­shire cre­ated lower-priced "B" shares in 1996, which in­creased the num­ber of in­vestors in the com­pany.

The planned we­b­cast was first re­port- ed by The Wall Street Jour­nal.

But even with the we­b­cast, trav­el­ing to Omaha for Buf­fett's "Wood­stock for Cap­i­tal­ists" of­fers dis­tinc­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties. Share­hold­ers get dis­counts from Berk­shire busi­nesses and may also par­tic­i­pate in a five- kilome­ter run or dine at Go­rat's steak house, a Buf­fett fa­vorite.

It is un­clear how the we­b­cast might af­fect tourism in Omaha, where Berk­shire's an­nual meet­ing is the big­gest tourist draw other than the Col­lege World Se­ries of base­ball.

Air fares soar and ho­tel rates typ­i­cally dou­ble or triple. Rooms within a short walk of the meet­ing now fetch more than $500 a night in­clud­ing taxes.

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