BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INC.
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
September 18, 2001
In an article in today's New York Times, Floyd Norris is confused about the difference between buying a business and the purchase of marketable bonds and stocks.
On Sunday's "60 Minutes" program Mr. Buffett stated that Berkshire had an "offer out on a business" that we had made before September 11th and, though the agreement was far from finalized, Berkshire would not back away. That was true and is true. The company, however, is not XTRA, as Mr. Norris speculated. Nevertheless, itís noteworthy that under like terms of itís tender offer Berkshire had the absolute right to abort its offer for XTRA on September 12th ¾ but did not, and indeed closed its purchase on September 17th.
In the Sunday interview Mr. Buffett said that Berkshire might be a buyer on Monday of marketable securities if prices "would fall significantly". Berkshire's $70 offer for FINOVA marketable bonds specifically allowed for its termination if markets were closed during the offering period, an option Berkshire promptly exercised on Monday. Nothing Mr. Buffett said in the Sunday interview could reasonably be interpreted as saying that Berkshire would yesterday be purchasing marketable securities at the prices of a week earlier.
Though the Berkshire press release had been issued much earlier, Mr. Norris yesterday called Berkshire more than an hour after its offices are regularly closed and its phone line reverts to a recorded message. At the time Mr. Norris called, Mr. Buffett was attending his granddaughter's birthday party at a location unknown to the Berkshire officer who Mr. Norris eventually contacted.
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