The man who oversees the insurance operations for Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway tells CNBC that Berkshire is talking with troubled bond insurers like MBIA and Ambac about a possible partnership or purchase, although it doesn't sound like anything major is imminent.
Ajit Jain made the comment in response to a question from Erin Burnett in a live interview on CNBC's Street Signs earlier this hour about why Berkshire chose to "build" its own bond insurerrather than buy an existing company like Ambac and MBIA . Shares of both companies bounced upward from steep losses after the interview, although they remain well below yesterday's close as the last half-hour of trading approaches.
Jain: They are not mutually exclusive. This is one small step. At this point, we'd like to have more full bites at the apple. If we can get comfortable with trying to assess the exposure that the existing players have, and if they're looking for us to partner up with them, I certainly don't want to rule out that possibility as well.
Erin: So you would consider partnering with one of those companies or maybe even buying them down the line?
Jain: Absolutely. And in fact we're in the process of talking to them right now, as we speak.
Erin: So this is something that could happen down the line? Well, it could be very soon?
Jain: Yeah. I mean, one thing has nothing to do with the other. As I said, we want to be in a state of readiness depending on what the leads are. We just want to be able to access the market in as many different ways as we can, much like any manufacturer would like to have a multi-channel strategy.
When asked if shares of MBIA and Ambac are going "a whole lot further lower," Jain replied, "I wish I knew the answer to that. That would make my life a lot easier."
In late-session trading today (Wednesday, January 9), Berkshire shares are hovering around $130,000, down almost three percent. Latest price: