GE to Repay Buffett for 2008 Rescue

Sept. 14, 2011
Buffet could have earned a profit of $1.2 billion.

General Electric said on Sept. 14 that it would pay billionaire Warren Buffett's company $3.3 billion, plus dividends, for the preferred shares he bought during the 2008 financial crisis.

Buffett's purchase of the preferred shares in October 2008 rescued GE in the depths of the crisis, when the company was suddenly hit with huge liabilities from its finance arm, GE Capital, soiling its once-pristine reputation.

Buffett's investment company, Berkshire Hathaway, paid $3 billion for the preferred shares of GE, which carried a 10% annual dividend.

GE said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it would pay Berkshire $3.3 billion to redeem the shares, "plus accrued and unpaid dividends to the redemption date," which it set to October 17. GE did not specify the size of the dividends, but with a 10% annual rate over three years, they would add up to $900 million, so along with the $300 million premium, Buffett would enjoy a profit of $1.2 billion on his investment.

Buffett, an 81-year-old tycoon known as the "Sage of Omaha" for his investing skills, made the $3 billion investment in General Electric several weeks after he propped up Goldman Sachs with a $5 billion cash injection.

The investment bank repaid Buffett for his investment earlier this year. He has reaped at least $1.6 billion in profits from the Goldman transaction.

Buffett's stock-picking prowess has made him the world's third-richest man with a fortune of $50 billion, according to Forbes magazine's latest list of the world's billionaires.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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