Berkshire Hathaway speeds up share sales in China's BYD

Berkshire Hathaway speeds up share sales in China's BYD

FILE PHOTO-Security guards stand at the BYD booth at the Auto Shanghai show, in Shanghai, China April 19, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song/file photo

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has accelerated its selling of shares in BYD, China’s largest seller of electric vehicles.

Berkshire reduced its stake in BYD‘s issued H-shares to 5.99% on June 19, according to a Tuesday filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange. The stake had been 7.02% as recently as June 11.

Hong Kong requires larger shareholders to disclose sales when their resulting stakes fall below whole percentage numbers. Berkshire may cease disclosing BYD sales after its ownership stake falls below 5%.

Buffett’s company began investing in Shenzhen-based BYD in 2008, when it paid $230 million for about 225 million shares, then equal to a 10% stake.

It began disclosing sales in August 2022, after BYD‘s share price had risen more than 20-fold, and two months after it set a record high. The price has since fallen about 28%.

Charlie Munger, Berkshire‘s late vice chairman, spearheaded the BYD investment, and Buffett has given him full credit. Berkshire invests mainly in the United States.

Founded by Chinese chemist Wang Chuanfu in 1995 as a maker of rechargeable batteries, BYD surpassed fellow billionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla last year as the world’s largest electric vehicle maker. Tesla regained the top spot in the first quarter.

Berkshire ended March with $189 billion of U.S. Treasury bills, cash and equivalents after selling $20 billion of stock, mainly Apple, in the first quarter.

The cash stake included $182.3 billion outside Berkshire‘s railroad, utilities and energy businesses. At Berkshire‘s annual meeting on May 4. Buffett called it a “fair assumption” that this amount could grow to $200 billion this quarter.

Reuters

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