A senior executive from the company said that despite the legendary investor Berkshire Hathaway Inc. selling more than a fifth of its stake this year, Warren Buffett loves China's biggest electric-vehicle maker BYD Co. and isn't abandoning it.
It is natural for him to get some returns -- cash out, said Stella Li, BYD executive vice president in an interview Tuesday, in the first high-level public comments about Buffett's long-held stake in the company.
BYD shares went up 6.9% in Hong Kong on Wednesday morning, hitting their highest since September and among the top gainers on the Hang Seng Index.
Berkshire, which first invested in BYD in September 2008, disclosed the first known sale of its stake in Hong Kong-listed shares in the automaker's Hong Kong-listed shares in August. The selloff increased in November, paring its holding to 15.99% from an initial 20.04% and raising questions about Buffett's long-term commitment to the Shenzhen-based company.
"I don't feel this is an indication that he has abandoned BYD," Li said. She said that he loves BYD, he loves management and will always be the biggest supporter of the company.
A Berkshire spokesman didn't respond immediately to requests for comment.
BYD's shares have fallen about 30% in Hong Kong since a Berkshire-sized stake appeared in the Hong Kong exchange's clearing system on July 11, fuelling speculation that Buffett may sell his holding. The slump has wiped out about HK $230 billion $30 billion from BYD's market value.
Berkshire and Buffett have had a good time with the investment. An initial $230 million investment has ballooned more than 1,570%, and Berkshire's remaining stake is worth around $4.5 billion, even after the selldown of the remaining stake.
In other highlights from the interview, Li said:
She doesn't view Tesla Inc. as a competitor because of its success, which means more people are learning about EVs. Our enemy, maybe, is the combustion-engine car. With help from Max Reyes and James Attwood.
None of JPMorgan is trying to fix health care.