Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Dumps Goldman Sachs Holdings

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05/16/2020 | 06:08 am
Warren Buffett

By Julie Steinberg

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. slashed the bulk of its holdings in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. during the first quarter, the conglomerate said Friday in a securities filing.

The sale reflects a coda of sorts to an investment born of the financial crisis, when Berkshire in 2008 plowed $5 billion into the bank to help secure its future during a period of existential uncertainty on Wall Street. Berkshire and Goldman redrew the terms of the deal five years later.

The bet at the time marked a significant vote of confidence on the future of Wall Street banks, coming shortly after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy.

Berkshire, once one of Goldman's largest shareholders, said it sold more than 10 million Goldman shares in the first quarter, bringing its holdings to 1.9 million shares. Its stake in the bank, now less than 0.6%, was worth $330 million as of Friday. Goldman's share price fell 33% in the first quarter as banks suffered with the coronavirus pandemic slamming the brakes on the global economy.

Berkshire earlier this month swung to a first-quarter loss as the selloff in markets hit the company's vast investments, though the company's operating earnings rose in the quarter. Mr. Buffett has been a huge backer of U.S. financial services firms in recent years, building up a position in banks, payments companies, insurers and ratings firms. Toward the latter half of last year, these holdings represented about a fifth of Berkshire's market capitalization.

Write to Julie Steinberg at julie.steinberg@wsj.com


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