TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Lunch With Warren Buffet Sells for Record $650 Thousand Dollars

Lunch With Warren Buffet Sells for Record $650 Thousand Dollars

Jonathan Stempel, Reuters (
Sat, 30 Jun 2007 16:04:29 -0500

By Jonathan Stempel

A bidder agreed to pay $650,100 to have lunch with billionaire Warren
Buffett, surpassing last year's record for the annual charity auction.

Mohnish Pabrai, an Irvine, California-based investor who models his
investment style on Buffett's, won the right to dine with the
76-year-old chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. The five-day online
auction concluded on Friday night on eBay Inc.'s Web site.

It was Pabrai's fifth year of bidding but the first time he won. The
top bid surged nearly $250,000 in the final hour.

"He has had a major influence on the way I've invested, and also on
the way I give back," Pabrai, 43, said in an interview. "To the extent
societal rules or the wiring of your brains make it easy to acquire a
lot of assets, then to the extent you can, you should try to improve
the world."

A year ago, Buffett pledged most of his fortune to the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation and four family charities. Forbes magazine in March
estimated his net worth at $52 billion.

Pabrai invests more than $600 million at Pabrai Investment Funds,
including $50 million in Berkshire stock. He said Guy Spier, a friend
who runs the Aquamarine LLC hedge fund, funded about one-third of his
winning bid.

The lunch for up to seven people will be held at a Manhattan
steakhouse run by Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group Inc. Pabrai plans
to take his wife and two children, and Spier and his wife.

Auction proceeds will benefit the Glide Foundation, a non-profit group
in San Francisco's Tenderloin district that helps serve poor and
homeless people.

Buffett began donating the lunches in 2000, after his wife Susan
introduced him to Glide, its affiliated church, and the Rev. Cecil
Williams, who runs both.

The auctions were conducted live for three years, and have raised some
$2.07 million for Glide since moving to the Web in 2003. Glide's
annual budget is about $12 million.

Last year's winner, Yongping Duan, a Palo Alto, California investor,
bid $620,100 to dine with Buffett.

Buffett has since 1965 transformed Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire
from a failing textile maker into a conglomerate with more than 70
businesses ranging from insurance to ice cream to underwear, and a
market value exceeding $168 billion.

Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited.

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