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Warren Buffett Gets Unwanted $5.5 Billion Check from Goldman Sachs

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett
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Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett has received an unwanted check for more than $5.5 billion from Goldman Sachs.

CNBC has confirmed the payment.

It is right on schedule, but not welcome.

One month ago on March 18 Goldman announcedit was giving Buffett the required 30-days notice to buy back the $5 billion in preferred shares it sold to Berkshire Hathaway in September of 2008.

That was at the height of the credit crisis. Berkshire's purchase of the preferred shares, in effect a loan to Goldman, was seen as a vote of confidence in the firm as some of its Wall Street rivals were going under.

To buy back those shares, Goldman has to pay a special one-time 10 percent dividend to Berkshire. That's the additional $500 million in today's payment.

Back in March, a Goldman spokesman told me the total payment would be $5,649,000,000, including roughly $150 million in additional dividends accrued since the deal's September anniversary date.

Why wouldn't Buffett want to get such a big check?

Berkshire had been getting a continuous stream of 10 percent annual dividends on the loan from Goldman. That works out to $1,369,863 a day that won't be heading from New York to Omaha.

With all that money coming in, Buffett has joked that if he thought Goldman was calling to pay him back, he would avoid answering the phone.

Buffett's Berkshire does retain warrants to buy $5 billion of Goldman common stock at $115 a share. With Goldman just under $160 a share today, that would generate a profit of about $1.6 billion if they were exercised now.

Buffett has indicated that he intends to keep those warrants until just before their expiration in 2013.

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