In an interview about his growing portfolio of Israeli businesses, American billionaire investor Warren Buffett said that he views Israel now as being similar to the United States “after its birth,” praised Israel’s “determination, motivation, intelligence and initiative,” and declared, “I’m a big believer in Israel’s economy,” according to an article published Monday in Forbes.
Buffett’s initial investment in Israel was in 2006, when his company Berkshire Hathaway bought an 80% stake in Iscar, an industrial toolmaker for $4 billion. In May 2013, Berkshire Hathaway bought the remaining 20% of the business for $2 billion. At the time he called Israel the “most promising investing hub outside of the United States.”
According to Berkshire Hathaway’s most recent filing, Buffett has invested in Israel’s pharmaceutical giant, Teva, which has been struggling of late, breaking with a longtime hesitation to invest in biotech stocks. Berkshire Hathaway bought a 1.9% stake in the company for $358 million. The value of the stock has risen to $400 million as share prices went up with news of the purchase
Buffett has promoted Israel Bonds, and purchased $5 million worth of bonds at a 2016 event in Omaha, at which $60 million in bonds were sold. At the time, Buffett said that if you’re looking for “brains, energy and dynamism,” Israel was the place to go.
In addition to Buffett’s own investments in Israel, some of those who invested with him have also put their money into the Jewish state. In June 2016, the estate of Howard and Lottie Marcus, Holocaust survivors who had made a fortune investing with Buffett, left a historic $400 million bequest to Ben-Gurion University, which is believed to be the largest individual gift ever made to an Israeli university. “Knowing them, it comes as no surprise that they elected to use their financial success to enhance the lives of thousands of Israeli young people,” Buffett said in a statement.
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