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Thursday, August 7, 2008

World's richest man

Warren Edward Buffett (born August 30, 1930, in Omaha, Nebraska) is an American investor, businessman and philanthropist. He is regarded as one of the world's greatest stock market investors, and is the largest shareholder and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.[3] With an estimated net worth of around US$62 billion,[4] he was ranked by Forbes as the richest person in the world as of February 11, 2008.[5]

Often called the "Oracle of Omaha,"[6] Buffett is noted for his adherence to the value investing philosophy and for his personal frugality despite his immense wealth.[7] His 2006 annual salary was about $100,000, which is small compared to senior executive remuneration in other comparable companies.[8] When he spent $9.7 million of Berkshire's funds on a business jet in 1989, he jokingly named it "The Indefensible" because of his past criticisms of such purchases by other CEOs.[9] He lives in the same house in the central Dundee neighborhood of Omaha that he bought in 1958 for $31,500, today valued at around $700,000.[10]

Buffett is also a noted philanthropist. In 2006, he announced a plan to give away his fortune to charity, with 83% of it going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.[11] In 2007, he was listed among Time's 100 Most Influential People in The World.[12] He also serves as a member of the board of trustees at Grinnell College.[13]

Early life and Benjamin Graham

Warren Buffett was born in Omaha, Nebraska on August 30, of 1930 from Howard and Leila (Stahl). As the son of a local stock broker, he was likely exposed to markets at a young age. One of his influential mentors was Benjamin Graham. Graham’s philosophy had such an impact on Buffett that he enrolled in Columbia Business School to study directly under him. In Buffett’s own words: “I’m 15 percent Fisher and 85 percent Benjamin Graham.”[14] As Buffett would often say about Graham’s teachings: “The basic ideas of investing are to look at stocks as business, use the market's fluctuations to your advantage, and seek a margin of safety. That’s what Ben Graham taught us. A hundred years from now they will still be the cornerstones of investing.”[15

Personal life

Mr. Buffett married Susan Thompson in 1952. They had three children, Susie, Howard, and Peter. The couple began living separately in 1977, though they remained married until her death in July 2004. His daughter Susie lives in Omaha and does charitable work through the Susan A. Buffett Foundation and is a national board member of Girls, Inc.

In 2006, on his 76th birthday, he married his never-before-married longtime-companion, Astrid Menks, who was age 60 and had lived with him since his wife's departure in 1977 to San Francisco.[35] Interestingly, it was Susan Buffett who arranged for the two to meet before she left Omaha to pursue her singing career. All three were close, and holiday cards to friends were signed "Warren, Susie and Astrid" (as per Roger Lowenstein's book, Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist). Susan Buffett briefly discussed this relationship in an interview on the Charlie Rose Show shortly before her death, in a rare glimpse into Buffett's personal life.[36]

He remains an avid player of the card game bridge, and has said that he spends 12 hours a week playing the game.[37] He often plays with Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

In 2006, he sponsored a bridge match for the Buffett Cup. In this event, modeled on the Ryder Cup in golf (and held immediately before it and in the same city), a team of twelve bridge players from the United States took on twelve Europeans.

In 2006, he auctioned his 2001 Lincoln Town Car[38] on eBay to raise money for Girls Inc.[39]

Warren Buffett is currently working with Christopher Webber on an animated series with DiC Entertainment chief Andy Heyward. According to information presented by Buffett at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting on May 6, 2006, the series will feature Buffett and Munger in roles and the series will teach children healthy financial habits for life. Cartoon drawings of Buffett and Munger were displayed throughout the events during the weekend and the special movie before the meeting began was in animation form by Heyward.

In December 2006 it was reported that Mr. Buffett does not carry a cell phone, does not have a computer at his desk, and drives his own car,[40] a Cadillac DTS.[41]

Buffett's DNA report revealed that his paternal ancestors hail from northern Scandinavia, while his mother's side most likely has roots in Iberia or Estonia.[4