2 Oct 2008

Buffett buys into GE amid 'economic Pearl Harbor'

6:59 pm on 2 October 2008

Billionaire Warren Buffett is investing $US3 billion in General Electric Co - despite a global credit crisis he calls an "economic Pearl Harbor."

Shares in GE have slid by about one-third this year.

The buy came eight days after his insurance and investment company Berkshire Hathaway Inc invested $US5 billion in Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Mr Buffett admitted on Wednesday that both investments could backfire if the US Congress fails to pass a proposed $700 billion bailout plan.

Berkshire is to buy $US3 billion of GE perpetual preferred shares with a 10% dividend, generating $US300 million of income a year.

Berkshire also gets warrants to buy $US3 billion of GE common stock within five years at $22.25 per share.

Mr Buffett told CNBC that General Electric is the backbone of American industry and it was going to still be around in "five or 10 or 100 years from now."

Berkshire is a $US213 billion conglomerate with some 76 businesses that sell such things as insurance, ice cream, paint and underwear and which invests in stocks such as Coca-Cola Co and Wells Fargo & Co.

Mr Buffett, 78, generally seeks undervalued companies with strong management.