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Buffett’s Berkshire Ups Stakes in Five Japanese Trading Houses

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(Bloomberg) — Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. increased its stakes in five of Japan’s major trading companies, according to filings released on Monday. 

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Berkshire Hathaway first bought stakes in Japan’s trading houses — also known as “sogo shosha” — in August 2020, acquiring about 5% of each of the firms. 

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The trading companies, which invest in oil and natural gas projects globally, have booked stellar earnings in the most recent quarter fueled by the boom in commodities. Mitsui announced a 140 billion yen ($1 billion) stock buyback earlier this month on the back of a jump in earnings from higher energy prices. 

Berkshire’s insurer National Indemnity Co. increased its stake in Mitsubishi Corp. to 6.59% from 5.04%, according to documents filed to the Finance Ministry in Tokyo. The entity also added to its stakes in Marubeni Corp., Itochu Corp., Mitsui & Co. and Sumitomo Corp. It was unclear from the filings when the stakes were increased. 

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National Indemnity did not immediately respond to Bloomberg requests for comment. 

Related story: Buffett’s 1977 Letter Hints at Why He Likes Japan Trading Houses

Mitsubishi shares jumped as much as 3.6% as of 10:10 a.m. local time Monday, the most since Nov. 1. Marubeni shares rose as much as 3.4%, while Sumitomo stocks gained 2.2%.  

The trading companies weren’t the only major increases in Buffett’s Asian portfolio. Berkshire Hathaway acquired a $5 billion stake in chip giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in the most recent quarter in a bid to benefit from its cheap valuation, technology leadership and solid fundamentals. 

Separately, Berkshire Hathaway is mulling a possible yen-denominated bond offering, according to a note from Mizuho Securities Co., as borrowers seek out the relatively stable Japanese credit market amid a global debt rout.

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