Chinese Fund Manager Pays $2.1 Million for Buffett Lunch; Tip Included

By | June 30, 2008

A Chinese fund manager has won a lunch with famed U.S. investor Warren Buffett after bidding $2.11 million for the opportunity in a charity auction, more than three times what the lunch fetched last year.

Zhao Danyang, who runs Hong Kong-based Pureheart China Growth Investment Fund, had the winning bid in the eBay Inc auction that ended late Friday.

Proceeds of the lunch with the 77-year-old chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. benefit Glide, a nonprofit foundation in San Francisco that offers programs for the poor, hungry and homeless.

Mohnish Pabrai, an Irvine, California-based investor, paid $650,100 for the right to dine with Buffett last year.

Buffett began donating lunches in 2000 after his wife Susan introduced him to the Rev. Cecil Williams, who founded Glide and runs the Glide Memorial United Methodist Church. The auctions, including the current one, have grossed more than $4 million for the organization. Last year’s winning bidder paid $650,000 for lunch with Buffett.

Zhao and up to seven friends will meet Buffett for lunch in New York City at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse.

Buffett, who is the world’s richest man according to Forbes Magazine, took over Berkshire in 1965, transforming it from a failing textile maker into a sprawling Omaha, Nebraska-based insurance and investment company with more than 70 businesses.

Often called the Sage of Omaha, Buffett has been lauded among investors for his preference for investing in larger companies with easy-to-understand businesses, large or dominant market shares, consistent earnings, and strong management.

Berkshire’s investments include American Express Co. and Coca-Cola Co.

Zhao, who has more than a decade of investing experience, selects investments “from the view of an industrial investor,” according to his firm’s website.

Buffett has pledged most of his fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four family charities. He has said his Berkshire shares will go to philanthropy.

(Editing by Braden Reddall)

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