Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway sells majority of stake in Goldman Sachs

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Posted: May 16, 2020 9:50 PM
Updated: May 16, 2020 9:50 PM

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway sold off 84% of its stake in Goldman Sachs during the first quarter, according to a regulatory filing.

The conglomerate slashed its holdings in the investment bank to 1.9 million shares from 12 million shares, according to SEC filings released Friday. Goldman Sachs's share price plunged by almost a third during the first quarter as the novel coronavirus swept the nation.

Berkshire Hathaway initially invested in $5 billion of preferred stock in the Wall Street firm in 2008, as a vote of confidence in Goldman Sachs at the height of the 2008 financial crisis. It redeemed those shares in 2011, with Berkshire making a profit of $3.7 billion.

A representative of Berkshire Hathaway didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company remains a majority shareholder in other financial firms, including American Express, Bank of America, PNC Financial and Wells Fargo.

At the company's annual meeting on May 2, Buffett said that "I think overall the banking system is not going to be the problem" during the pandemic, although he added that if economic difficulties become severe enough "even strong banks can be under a lot of stress, and we'll be very glad we've got the Federal Reserve system, standing behind them."

This is not the only major change that Berkshire has made to its portfolio recently.

Buffett disclosed at the annual meeting that the firm had sold its entire stake in airline carriers American, United, Delta and Southwest Airlines, which account for more than 80% of US air travel. Berkshire was among the three largest shareholders in the four airline carriers.

"It turned out I was wrong about that business, because of something that was not in any way the fault of four excellent CEOs," Buffett said.

In its first quarter results, Berkshire also disclosed that the conglomerate had a record $137.3 billion in cash on its balance sheet at the end of the March quarter.

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