'Oracle of Omaha' Buffett dispenses wisdom in India
He came, he saw, he charmed.
Warren Buffett, known as the Oracle of Omaha for his legendary investment acumen, dispensed his trademark homespun wisdom and market savvy to Indians on his first visit to the fast-growing South Asian giant this week.
The 80-year-old Buffett was in India to join his close friend, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, to prod India's super-rich to part with some of their wealth as part of the charity drive the pair launched last year.
Buffett, worth an estimated $50 billion through his investment company Berkshire Hathaway, told Indian business leaders bluntly there was no conflict between making money and being philanthropic.
"You can create jobs and be Santa Claus at the same time," joked Buffett, who has pledged to donate 99 percent of his wealth.
"When I give away my Berkshire Hathaway shares, they have no utility to me and great utility to others (who are poorer)."
"Mr Buffett is a man with a great humanity and puts the human face far above business considerations," said Analjit Singh, managing director of the Max India conglomerate, after attending a meeting with Buffett.
Buffett, who made his billions by buying stocks at bargain prices, also handed out some tips to eager Indian investors.
"My advice is to invest in what you understand -- and when you're not paying the right price don't buy," said Buffett, who got wall-to-wall Indian TV coverage.
Large and small investors hang on Buffett's every word -- and for sound reasons. If an investor invested just $1,000 in the shares of Berkshire when Buffett took control in 1965, they would be sitting on millions of dollars now.
On world recovery and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster, he was sanguine.
"The economy of America, United States and others around the world are improving month-by-month," he said. "It might not be quite as fast as everybody would like but it is happening."
Buffett added that he thought global economies would only be "slightly affected" by the deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
He said the Japanese disaster will set the country "back for a while" but "they will come back."
The investment guru praised fast-growing India, a country of 1.2 billion people, as a "dream market."
"The number of people, the buying power they are gaining, the ability to produce things, everything is getting better," he said.
Buffett said he pleaded "guilty to being late in visiting India."
"I should have come sooner but I've been a sort of stay-at-home fellow for most of my life," he said.
"We hope to spend some money here," added Buffett, who has declared he is ready for some big acquisitions.