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America Reacts to Bin Laden's Death; Warren Buffet's Take on Succession Planning

CNBC.com
Tuesday, 3 May 2011 | 6:46 PM ET

This is a transcript of top stories presented by China's CCTV Business Channel as produced by CNBC Asia Pacific.

Hi, I'm Saijal Patel, and you're watching "Asia Market Daily".

After a near 10 year hunt, U.S. special forces have killed America's number one enemy... a man said to be responsible for the 9-11 attacks.

CNBC traveled to Ground Zero in New York, where Michelle Caruso-Cabrera filed this report.

(Package starts)

(SOT) Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, CNBC:

The mood at first was jubilation but it quickly turned to solemnity. As the news of the al Qaeda's killing sent memories and emotions back to the catastrophic day ten years ago.

USA! USA!

When word first broke, celebration at ground zero. By this afternoon, news of Osama Bin Laden's death led to a more somber and reflective mood. Reconstruction continued unabated as the number of visitors to the site surged. Many leaving flowers and american flags in honour of those killed at september 11.

(SOT) Man on the street:

I think, yes, spiritual, and emotionally, getting osama bin laden has been a big boost to everybody's spirits. But i think the threat still remains.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani agrees. Speaking at ground zero today, he said ultimately the U.S. will be safer. But right now authorities have to be vigilant for retaliatory acts from Bin Laden sympathizers.

(SOT) Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York:

I believe this is a victory long term against terrorism. Although short term it will present some additional dangers.

The attacks occured in the heart of the financial capital of the world and NYSE floor trader Art Cashin was there that day.

(SOT) Art Cashin, floor trader at NYSE:

The death of Osama Bin Laden reignites in my mind all of the memories of the fateful day down here.

There is great debate on wall street as to whether the killing of Bin Laden will have a lasting impact on the markets. But oil trader John Killduff has no doubt.

(SOT) John Killduff, oil trader:

This is definitely a momentous day. This day let's us look forward now to a new time. And i really believe the freedom ripping through the middle east will only be helped by this.

And what you're looking at right now is what New Yorkers call the Freedom Tower. But it is officially One World Trade Centre and construction workers were all over it today. They did not want to stop because they do not want to let this event distract them from their mission at hand. It's scheduled to be done by the fourth quarter of 2013 and it will be another crucial step in the healing of New York, and America. Back to you.

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Market euphoria over the death of Osama bin Laden wore off today though - as investors refocused their attention on the shaky global economy.

And according to some, the al Qaeda leader's death won't have too much of an impact anyway.

Michael Kurtz of Macquarie Securities says bin Laden's killing may see a reduction in U.S. military spending, but won't affect fiscal budgets.

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(SOT) Michael Kurtz, head of regional strategy, Macquarie Securities:

The market impact here is in fact likely to be pretty muted. If we think about some of the key considerations that events in the Middle East and South Asia have had on markets recently, it's really about the oil price first of all, and secondly about the massive American fiscal expenditure on its military involvement in Iraq & back in Afghanistan.

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Moving on now from Osama bin Laden's death...

The usual buzz surrounding Berkshire Hathaway's annual general meeting was heightened over the weekend. But this time, because of controversy.

Berkshire's boss Warren Buffett faced shareholders, over David Sokol's resignation in the wake of a Lubrizol share-buy scandal - and the subsequent board move to brand the buy 'illegal'.

CNBC's Beckie Quick sat down with the sage of Omaha to get his thoughts.

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(SOT) Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO, Berkshire Hathaway:

I think it was inexplicable and inexcusable, is the term I used 20 years ago at Solomon, and the audit committee report, I think it's up on our website, clearly showed why it's inexcusable and it's inexplicable to me because I saw anything in his past behaviors remotely that would indicate that he would be buying stock immediately before posing the deal. So I don't know the answer and I'm not sure I'll know the answer 10 or 20 years from now.

(SOT) Beckie Quick, CNBC:

There are some people who wonder, after that original press release, where the ruthlessness was for losing some shred of integrity. Today, you made it fairly clear how you feel and the board, the audit committee has weighed in on repercussions will be from that. But if you could do it all over again, what would it be?

(SOT) Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO, Berkshire Hathaway:

I certainly wouldn't have written the release the same way, of the press release. Obviously it stirred up a storm, and I think people wanted me to be bad in the release. Now on that Wednesday when the release went out, we called the Chief of Enforcement at the SEC and laid out a bunch of things that were very damning, the same things we laid out in the release to the enforcement division of the SEC. And I did not, I did not really understand when I wrote that, the fact that people would not regard that as quite a damning release. We named some things that had been done that people were going to clearly regard as wrong. And he was gone, and he was gone in a manner that minimized the cost to Berkshire. But I clearly should have written it more differently."

(SOT) Beckie Quick, CNBC:

There have been some people who have suggested that you should have reported Dave's ownership either to the audit committee or to the board when he told you casually, or in passing that he had owned some of that stock.

(SOT) Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO, Berkshire Hathaway:

When he first brought it up to me on January 14 or 15th, you know, he said 'I think you should look at Lubrizol' and I said 'how come' and he said 'Well I've owned it and looks like a good company and Berkshire's kind of company'. Now if any director had said that to me, any of my managers, I would have just assumed that they'd owned it for some time. I mean if you bought it last week, than the answer is, you bought it last week. And I think, so I, you know, my guard was not up and we actually had a acquisition that we very much hoped would go through that was active and that was the main topic of conversation, we talked about, and it just did not strike me as significant and it wasn't till March, whenever we announced deal, March 28 I guess and I heard.

(SOT) Beckie Quick, CNBC:

Yeah March 14th and I heard from John Freund from Citigroup that he's been active in this thing and David never indicated any of that, so my antenna went up and we started asking questions. You know there are people who have asked questions about who your potential successor might be. And a lot of people have assumed that David Sokol was the number one choice to take over as CEO before all of this happened. You made some allusions today that people who made those assumptions may have been getting ahead of themselves.

(SOT) Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO, Berkshire Hathaway:

I think they were, yeah, and I think if you talk to directors, that, arh, they would say the same thing.

(SOT) Beckie Quick, CNBC:

You talked very glowingly today about a Adeep Jain, would be correct in assuming he is a top contender, or the top contender?

(SOT) Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO, Berkshire Hathaway:

He would be very good at running Berkshire, but he doesn't want to run Berkshire. He loves doing what he's doing. But he would be extraordinary at anything he would be asked to do.

(SOT) Beckie Quick, CNBC:

Why was Dave Sokol not considered necessarily the top successor. He'd been taking over a lot of different units that had been in trouble before, taking on more responsibilities?

(SOT) Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO, Berkshire Hathaway:

Well there were three other good ones. And it's a subject that the board spends the majority of its time on. And people express themselves and warn me of the pros and cons of various candidates and you can assume they did that on Dave but I can't tell you what they said.

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Always leaving us in suspense. That was Warren Buffet there, speaking with CNBC's Beckie Quick.

Well that wraps up the latest “Asia Market Daily”. I'm Saijal Patel from CNBC, thanks for watching.

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