Buffett Watch

China Fund Manager to Pay Record $2.1 Million for Lunch with Warren Buffett


The big spender who won this year's "Power Lunch with Warren Buffett" charity auction with a record high bid of $2,110,100 is Zhao Danyang of the Hong-Kong based Pure Heart China Growth Investment Fund, according to a spokesperson for San Francisco's Glide Foundation.

I spoke with Zhao by telephone late tonight.  He told me his investment philosophy is very similar to Buffett's and he has "lots of questions" to ask him.  He's especially interested in Buffett's opinion on China and its economy, in light of the fact that country has "grown up" very quickly.

An article in Asia Times Online last February described Zhao as an early investor in China's class-A shares, who liquidated all five of his firm's mainland funds to lock in profits from that market's enormous gains.  That decision, says Asia Times, was "like a stone thrown into a quiet lake" because Zhao had been praised for establishing a China fund in 2004 "when the market at the time was dominated by bears."

Zhao told me he decided to sell when price to earnings ratios grew too high and he started having trouble finding "cheap and good" stocks.

Zhao says he sold before Buffett's own decision to eliminate his stake in PetroChina last fall based on its massive price appreciation.

Pure Heart's website includes a page on its investment philosophy headlined "Abandon Pure Technical Analysis and Adhere to Company Fundamentals."

Glide is also a big winner tonight as it gets 100 percent of the proceeds from the eBay Charity Works auction.  The incredible bid is more than three times bigger than last year's then-record $650,100paid by investors Mohnish Pabrai and Guy Spiers.  They collected their prize earlier this week.

Glide, described by Buffett in a live interview with CNBC this week as a "marvelous, marvelous" organization, will use the money to further its mission of helping the city's poor and homeless.  Buffett praises Glide's founder, Cecil Williams, as a "remarkable man" who brings hope to "people the world has given up on."

In a statement late tonight, Williams is quoted as saying:

"I have been moved with deep, heartfelt experiences.  Warren Buffett's expression of commitment and dedication go beyond amazing.  It almost feels like a miracle.  We are amazed and ready to continue our work of breaking the cycles of poverty.  Thank you, Warren Buffett, for your deep compassion and sensitivity that empowers us to transform the lives of so many people in need."

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