'We paid $4b for a company we never saw; I am happy to report it really exists'
A reception was held at Jerusalem's King David Hotel last night in honor of Warren Buffet's first visit to Israel, during which the legendary investor presented his business philosophy in a nutshell. Asked how he made his money, he answered: "How do you make $40 billion? Start early and live a long time."
Speaking at greater length about running a successful company, Buffet allowed that "our business trick is not to try to be a genius but to find geniuses to partner with and then try not to interfere with them in business. A lot of Americans went looking for oil in the Middle East, but they didn't stop here. We were looking for brains, and came straight to Israel."
Buffett also referred to the fact that he invested in Iscar without ever having seen it. "We paid $4 billion for a company we never saw. Now I am happy to report that there really is a factory there. Iscar isn't an easy business, it's not like Coca-Cola with a formula that's good for 200 years, but there are employees, a tradition and products that thousands of manufacturers around the world value."
The reception was a who's who of Israeli industry and financial players, with about 300 guests. Among the more prominent participants were Gil Schwed, Mickey Federmann, Idan Ofer, Ofra Strauss, Sami Sagol, Hemi Peres and Dov Lautman. Zohar Zisapel was the only one in jeans and sandals. Dudi Weisman made the rounds with Yitzhak Teshuva at length and was later seen with Zadik Bino.
The guests were given an opportunity to question Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger, but Eitan Wertheimer, in his role as compere, did not have an easy time wringing questions out of the crowd. Buffett and Munger were smiling and seemed relaxed even late into the evening despite their busy itinerary.