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Warren Buffett buys £6.75 billion stake in IBM

Sage of Omaha in sharp U-turn after years of avoiding tech investment

Billionaire Warren Buffett has bought a $10.7 billion (£6.75 billion) stake in IBM over the last eight months.

The world's third richest man according to Forbes magazine now has a 5.4 percent stake in the IT company, despite previously saying that he did not invest in technology stock because he did not understand it.

Buffett made the revelation of his purchase, through his company Berkshire Hathaway, in an interview with CNBC yesterday.

When asked why he had changed his mind about technology investments, Buffett said: "I've probably read the annual report of IBM every year for 50 years. And this year it came in on a Saturday, and I read it. I read it through a different lens.

"I don't think there's any company that I can think of that's done a better job of laying out where they're going to go and then having gone there. They have laid out a roadmap and I should have paid more attention to it five years ago, where they were going to go in five years ending in 2010. Now they've laid out another roadmap for 2015. They've done an incredible job."

Buffett referred to how Lou Gerstner, former IBM CEO, saved the company from bankruptcy in the 90s, and how he decided to explore his companies' IT departments after reading the IBM annual report.

"We went round to all of our companies to see how their IT departments functioned and why they made the decisions they made. And I just came away with a different view of the position IBM holds within IT departments and why they hold it," Buffett said.

He said that he had set out to buy about $10 billion in IBM stocks, and does not plan to buy any more.

"I wouldn't be talking about it if we weren't pretty much done," he said.

When asked if he would invest in another large technology company like Microsoft, Buffett described the IT company as a "special case" because of his friendship with the world's second richest man, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.

"I think Microsoft is attractive, but we will never buy Microsoft," he said.

"If we spent seven months buying Microsoft stock and during that period they announced a repurchase, or increase of the dividend, or an acquisition, people would say 'you've been getting inside information from Bill'. There's no sense putting yourself in that position."


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