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Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Public (NYSE: BRKA, NYSE: BRKB)
Founded 1839 (as Valley Falls Company)
Headquarters Omaha, Nebraska
Area served USA
Key people Warren E. Buffett (Chairman) & (CEO)
Charles T. Munger (Vice Chairman)
Property and casualty insurance, Diversified investments
Conglomerate focused on insurance
US$ 196 Billion (2008)
▲ US$ 118.245 Billion (2007)
▲ US$ 20.161 Billion (2007)
▲ US$ 13.213 Billion (2007)
▲ US$ 273.160 Billion (2007)
▲ US$ 120.733 Billion (2007) …show more content…
Bill Gates' Cascade Investments LLC is the second largest shareholder of Berkshire and owns more than 5% of class B shares.
Berkshire Hathaway is notable in that it has never split its shares, which not only contributed to their high per-share price but also significantly reduced the liquidity of the stock. This refusal to split the stock reflects the management's desire to attract long-term investors as opposed to short-term speculators. However, Berkshire Hathaway has created a Class B stock, with a per-share value kept (by specific management rules) close to 1/30th of that of the original shares (now Class A) and 1/200th of the per-share voting rights. Holders of Class A stock are allowed to convert their stock to Class B, though not vice versa.
Buffett was reluctant to create the Class B shares, but did so to thwart the creation of unit trusts that would have marketed themselves as Berkshire look-alikes. As Buffett said in his 1995 shareholder letter:
"The unit trusts that have recently surfaced fly in the face of these goals. They would be sold by brokers working for big commissions, would impose other burdensome costs on their shareholders, and would be marketed en masse to unsophisticated buyers, apt to be seduced by our past record and beguiled by the publicity Berkshire and I have received in recent years. The sure outcome: a multitude of investors destined to be