by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 21, 2011
US billionaire investor Warren Buffett said Monday that neither the March 11 earthquake and tsunami nor the corporate scandal that has engulfed Olympus have changed his view on investing in Japan.
In his first visit to the country, Buffett toured a factory owned by his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway in the disaster hit Tohoku region, roughly 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
Known as the "Sage of Omaha" for his investing skills, the 81-year-old told a news conference that "the tsunami didn't change Japanese people and Japanese businesses".
In an interview with Dow Jones Newswires, he added that he was looking for "a big investment" in Japan.
His comments come as Japan is pressured by a strong yen that has hit record highs, eroding the repatriated profits of exporters and making their goods less competitive, prompting concerns over the nation's growth prospects.
The March disasters left 20,000 people dead or missing, triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis while heavily disrupting Japanese industry and shattering component supply chains, sending shockwaves through world markets.
Buffett said that the Olympus scandal -- in which the firm's shares have fallen by around 70 percent since October 13 -- has not changed his view on investing in Japan.
Such scandals "don't affect good businesses," Buffett said, referring to the admission by the maker of cameras and optical equipment that it covered up investment losses dating back to the 1990s.
He added that he had no plans to make "big bets" on European government bonds but saw better prospects for the US economy.
Buffett arrived by helicopter at the factory on Monday where he was welcomed by the plant's 400 workers, the Iwaki City mayor and the deputy governor of Fukushima, Dow Jones said.
Buffett's stock-picking prowess has made him the world's third-richest man, with a fortune of $50 billion, according to Forbes magazine's latest list of the world's billionaires.
Last week he said that Berkshire Hathaway has bought $10.7 billion worth of shares in information technology giant IBM since March.
Buffett told business television network CNBC that his investment amounts to about 64 million shares, the equivalent of a 5.5 percent stake.
-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this story --
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Chemical plant blast kills 14 in China
Beijing (AFP) Nov 19, 2011
Fourteen workers were killed and five injured Saturday in an explosion at a chemical plant in east China, state media reported, citing local authorities. The explosion occurred around 2pm at a melamine production facility in Xintai, in Shandong province, Xinhua news agency reported. Workers were maintaining and repairing a condenser when the blast occurred, Xinhau said, citing a statemen ... read more
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