For the second time in four years, the industrial city of Daegu attracted the attention of the world as Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett came to town.
Buffett, making the rounds of Asia together with Iscar CEO Eitan Wertheimer, was supposed to visit Japan to inaugurate a new Iscar plant there, but found himself with time to spare after catastrophe struck the island nation, and went for a long tour of South Korea.
Even at his advanced age of 81, Buffett maintains his unique style. On Sunday night he disembarked from his private jet, decked out in what looked for the entire world like pajamas –wrinkled gray flannel trousers and a sweatshirt that had seen better days. His scruffy appearance seemed not to dismay the hundreds of reporters, public figures and curious Koreans awaiting his arrival: they greeted him with roars, “I love you, Buffett”.
He began his morning at Daego at Iscar’s plant there and ended the day in Seoul, meeting with South Korea President Lee Myung-bak.
The next morning Buffett was wearing a suit, but by mid-day he’d changed again. For his press conference with Wertheimer at the Daego Tech plant, the two were given traditional robes, which they donned on the spot, to the delight of the dozens of reporters covering the visit.
Buffett was also invited to supper with a South Korean businessman who owns a group of companies turning over more than $50 billion a year. But Buffett had wearied and did what he usually does when he’s had enough: he went to bed.
When you’re Warren Buffett, even the rules of ceremony in Asia don’t apply to you.
Aside from Eitan Wertheimer and his wife Ariella, Buffett’s entourage also included Iscar president Jacob Harpaz, chief financial officer Danny Goldman (who wins plaudits every year in Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders), and marketing manager Ilan Geri. From the U.S. came Ron Olson, legal counsel and director at Berkshire Hathaway, and Cathy Baron Tamraz, CEO of Businesswire, which Berkshire Hathaway bought the same year it acquired Iscar.