Buffett defends Berkshire’s sale of airline stakes in 2020

Warren Buffett on Saturday defended Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s decision last year to sell its stake in major airlines in May 2020 as the industry reeled from the pandemic and share prices were near what would prove to be their bottom.. Airline shares have rebounded sharply following heavy rounds of government aid and as the economy has started to reopen. Buffett, speaking at Berkshire’s annual meeting, argued that had Berkshire maintained its stake a potential backlash could have made it less likely the industry would have received generous rounds of aid. The airlines “might very well have very, very, very different result if they’d had a very, very, very rich shareholder,” he said. Buffett said Berkshire still has exposure to air travel via its stake in American Express Co. and its ownership of aerospace equipment maker Precision Castparts. “I don’t consider it a great moment in Berkshire’s history, but we have more net worth than any company on earth,” Buffett said, adding that he still doesn’t want to own airlines.

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