Mittelstand and More

Warren Buffett on German Acquisitions: The Larger the Better

119416043 Buffett Getty
Trying to catch a big German fish. Source: Getty Images

Warren Buffett plans to acquire more companies in Germany, and not just small and medium-sized enterprises (the country’s so-called Mittelstand firms) that have been his focus here until now. “I’d love to invest more in Germany,” he said in a brief interview with Handelsblatt. “The larger the better.”

The 87-year old billionaire investor and head of Berkshire Hathaway also said he hopes Chancellor Angela Merkel will triumph in Sunday’s federal elections. “Merkel is a remarkable person. She is important,” Mr. Buffett said on the sidelines of Forbes magazine’s 100th anniversary celebration Tuesday in New York. “Germany and the world, in my view, are very lucky to have a leader like Angela.”

Mr. Buffett has long been bullish on Germany – both politically and economically. Earlier this year a subsidiary of Berkshire acquired the Mittelstand firm Wilhelm Schulz. Two years earlier, he bought Hamburg motorcycle parts specialist Louis. He has also acquired smaller stakes in some larger companies, including Lanxess. His investment manager has let it be known they’re looking out for more possibilities, but has also complained that valuations are high and the going is difficult.

The Oracle of Omaha has yet to catch a big fish. And he’s not alone in trying. With interest rates at record lows and Germany seen as a stable-but-prosperous investment, private equity firms and other investment managers have been circling Europe’s largest economy for the past few years and driving up prices.

Still, Mr. Buffett’s latest comments to Handelsblatt suggest he hasn’t given up on making a splash in Germany.

Katharina Kort is a financial correspondent for Handelsblatt based in New York. Christopher Cermak contributed and adapted this story for Handelsblatt Global. To contact the authors: kort@handelsblatt.com and cermak@handelsblatt.com

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