Bloomberg News

GE Redeems $3.3 Billion Stake Buffett Bought Amid 2008 Crisis

October 17, 2011

Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co. paid $3.3 billion today to repurchase preferred stock sold to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. as financial markets froze in October 2008.

A GE spokesman, Kenny Juarez, confirmed the payment in an interview. Steven Winoker of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. and other analysts expect GE to show an $800 million reduction in retained earnings when the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company reports third-quarter results on Oct. 21.

Buffett’s purchase of the shares, callable after three years at a 10 percent premium, helped Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt raise an additional $12 billion from public markets two weeks after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy. GE disclosed its planned repayment date last month in a U.S. regulatory filing.

Buying back the stake was a priority for Immelt and Chief Financial Officer Keith Sherin, who told investors in July that GE is concentrating on repurchasing common shares and increasing its dividend.

For Buffett, the redemption of the shares means an end to the 10 percent annual dividend, or $300 million, that GE paid Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire. Buffett didn’t respond to a request for comment e-mailed to his assistant, Carrie Kizer.

--Editor: James Langford, John Lear

To contact the reporters on this story: Rachel Layne in Boston at rlayne@bloomberg.net; Andrew Frye in New York at afrye@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net


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