2005: Will Berkshire acquire the remainder of Cologne Re?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Good morning. Jens (PH) from Germany.
After buying almost all of Cologne Re, how happy are you about the progress, and what are the plans for the remaining minority shareholders?
WARREN BUFFETT: Yeah. General Re, at the time we bought it in 1998, owned something in the 80s of Cologne Re, a large German company that they bought this 80-odd percent in, a few years earlier.
It’s actually slightly more complicated than that because there was an arrangement where a certain purchase was deferred, but as a practical matter they owned in the 80s.
Right now, Gen Re owns about 91 percent of Cologne Re.
That’s a subject that, obviously, it’s not pressing with us, because we’ve owned it for seven years without taking our interest up, except periodically through small purchases.
And there’s no particular reason to — why 100 would be better than 91 percent.
But if the price is attractive and shares are offered to us, we will always contemplate buying it. But it’s not key to any strategy.