Warren Buffett's in the market for another Israeli company
Heaping superlatives on Iscar, the billionaire suggests that Israel, U.S. share the same security risks
So Israel went to war shortly after he made his first investment outside the U.S., paying a stunning $4 billion for an 89% stake in northern Israeli blades maker Iscar. Does Warren Buffett regret the deal? Not at all, it would seem.
Buffett also said he hopes to hear of another Israeli company to buy in about 12 months. Since buying Iscar, he hasn't received any investment suggestions in Israel, he said, adding that he'd be prepared to invest in big companies, if they have half the qualities that Iscar has.
He means to place more of an emphasis on Iscar than on his other investments, Buffett said. "I expect to tell the story of Iscar at the next Berkshire annual meeting," he said, adding that he was happy to have invested here and even happier now having visited.
In his first public statement since landing on yesterday, Buffett said that Iscar is already a terrific deal. Over time, said the so-called Oracle of Omaha, it will be a wonder and example for other transactions that he does.
He praised Iscar's capacity for making use of a raw material available to anybody, and using it to conquer markets throughout the world.
"I am glad Stef Wertheimer laid the foundation of this company," he said, adding that he had never seen a company with Iscar's quality of business figures.
"What we saw this morning was magic," Buffett commented. He's seen thousands of companies, he said, but nothing with the combination that Iscar presented: tremendous achievement, brainpower, talent and imagination, a company that started from nothing and against all odds, turned into a global company on which all the serious aviation and vehicle makers depend.
Iscar and the Tefen industrial park should be a model for emulation in Israel and in the U.S. as well, Buffett added.
Munger clarified that they would be interested in companies whose people love their business.
Moreover, Buffett, the world's second-richest man thinks that by and large, the U.S. and Israel share the same security risks, he said on the first morning of his three-day visit to Israel.
Regarding Israel's security situation, Buffett commented that in the short run it does have unique qualities. But in the long run, he said, Israel and the U.S. face much the same security risks.
Buffett's partner Charlie Munger also commented on the security situation, saying that he's lived to see the violence in Ireland end: perhaps Israel's will end too, he said.
In any case the periodic upheavals have not impaired his preparedness to do business in Israel, Munger added.
Stef Wertheimer, who took the Berkshire Hathaway chiefs on a tour of the Tefen industrial zone - where Iscar is located (and well within the footprint of the Katyusha rockets that the Hizbullah had been firing at Israel), said that he firmly believes the way to bring peace to the Middle East is - through industrial parks.