Japanese trading houses rise as Warren Buffett says he plans to buy more

Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan in 2011.

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Shares of Japanese trading houses rose Tuesday afternoon after Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathawaysaid he planned to increase his holdings.

In an interview with NikkeiBuffett said he plans to invest more in five major Japanese trading houses, adding that he is “very proud” of his existing investments in them.

Shares of Mitsubishi Corp. rose 2.7% in afternoon trade in Japan, Mitsui & Co.. gained 2.6%, Itochu Corp. rose 2.5% and Marubéni Corp. advanced by 3.7%. Sumitomo Corp.. also increased by 2.7%.

Buffett told Nikkei he plans to meet with the companies later in the week “to really have a discussion around their business and emphasize our support,” according to the report.

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Japan’s five largest trading companies – known as sogo shosha – are conglomerates that import everything from energy and metals to food and textiles in resource-scarce Japan. They also provide services to manufacturers. Trading houses have contributed to the growth of the Japanese economy and contributed to the globalization of its activities.

Buffett told Nikkei that he currently holds a 7.4% stake in Itochu – an increase of about 0.6 percentage points from the 6.8% stake disclosed in November regulatory filings.

At the end of last year, Berkshire Hathaway increased its positions in the top five trading houses in Japan by at least 1 percentage point to more than 6% each – after its initial purchase in Augustwhen Buffett acquired stakes worth more than $6 billion on his 90th birthday.

November filings showed Berkshire Hathaway’s holdings were 6.6% in Mitsubishi Corp.6.6% in Mitsui & Co.., 6.2% in Itochu Corp.., 6.8% Marubéni Corp. and 6.6% in Sumitomo Corp..

Nikkei separately reported that Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is preparing another yen-denominated bond issue, which was seen as a signal that the conglomerate would increase its investments in Japan.

– CNBC’s Becky Quick contributed to this report

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