Reported By: Reuters – Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Buffett’s Back, with the Terminator!
WADDESDON MANOR, England (Reuters) – The world’s second-richest man dropped into the English countryside with the Terminator at his side on Monday, a day after warning the UK’s corporate big game his elephant gun was loaded.
Warren Buffett and mean machine Arnold Schwarzenegger touched down by helicopter on the immaculate lawns of Waddesdon manor, a Renaissance-style chateau in the undulating hills of Buckinghamshire.
Buffett, 72, is guest of honor at a closed two-day meeting of some of the world’s most powerful businessmen and financiers — the ultimate networking opportunity.
The get-together in the ancestral home of the Rothschild banking family will discuss economic and political issues, the organizers said. But Buffett’s remark, made in a weekend newspaper interview, that he is looking for a “big deal” in Britain has stolen the agenda.
“We are hunting the elephant… We have got an elephant gun and it’s loaded,” Buffett told the Sunday Telegraph.
Among those invited to Waddesdon Manor were the likes of James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, Jorma Ollila, chief executive of Nokia and De Beers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer.
Schwarzenegger was on the guestlist as a celebrity customer of the conference sponsor NetJets Inc, a private jets business owned by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
This year’s stock market carnage is made for Buffett, the billionaire Oracle of Omaha, Nebraska. A godsend for firms who need cash quickly, he has more than $7 billion in cash on hand, and can set-up iron-clad deals in a day. His philosophy is simple: “Work out how much it will pay out from now until Judgement Day, then discount it back and buy it cheaper,” he told shareholders at his annual meeting in May, when asked for the secret of his success.
A procession of black cars with darkened windows swept up the drive of the 120-year-old English country house amid tight but discreet security.
A group of photographers captured the moment when Buffett and Schwarzenegger, resplendent in steel-tipped cowboy boots, stepped onto Waddesdon’s freshly cut lawn to be greeted by Lord Jacob Rothschild.
“It’s very nice of you to host this,” Schwarzenegger said.
For the UK company in Buffett’s sights, it may well be hasta la vista, baby.