BusinessCorporate FinanceThe corridors of power…

The corridors of power...

We all suffer nightmares from time to time (in the literal rather than the clichéd sense). One particularly vivid one involves sitting in a room with Warren Buffett and a collection of lackeys, desperately trying to keep the conversation going.

Your editor has failed to turn up, blaming a transport strike, and everything
is riding on your shoulders.

It actually happened. Buffett was in London to promote NetJets, his airborne
timeshare business. The editor had agreed to meet him at the Ritz and I was
assigned to accompany him. Buffett’s minders were less than amused when muggins
put in a lone appearance.

But it all turned out fine. Buffett is a charming man and didn’t seem the
least put out. Maybe he thought I was the editor. He struck me as a real gent,
unlike some of the hangers on.

Just as Tiny Rowland won over an army of small shareholders in Britain, so
Buffett has a mass following among private investors in the US. His folksy,
homespun advice to investing in the stock market has long struck a chord with
middle America.

Anyone who invested $10,000 in Buffett’s investment vehicle, Berkshire
Hathaway, when he took control in 1965 would today be sitting on a stake worth
more than $50m.

The Buffett mythology has spawned several books about the sage of Omaha and
his methods. In the last few weeks, Random House, the publishing company, paid a
reputed $7m for the US rights to a new tome: The Snowball: How Warren
Buffett Collected Friends, Wisdom and Wealth
.

With Jack Welch’s book Winning still in the best-seller list several
months on, the latest Buffett work is sure to be a winner. But don’t put it on
your Christmas list just yet. It won’t be published until 2008.

Jon Ashworth is a freelance journalist and writer

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