Warren Buffett watch: Amid conservative split, blog takes aim at Charles Munger Jr. - Omaha.com
Published Sunday, November 3, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 12:51 pm
Warren Buffett watch: Amid conservative split, blog takes aim at Charles Munger Jr.

Charles Munger Jr., the physicist son of Warren Buffett's longtime business partner, is a “dominant force in reviving the (Republican) party and in reshaping California politics,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Munger Jr., from Palo Alto., Calif., has donated nearly $100 million to campaigns on ballot measures since 2003 and more than $1.5 million this year to the Republican Party.

He also is involved in a lawsuit that illustrates a split between the party's conservative and less-conservative wings, with Munger on the less-conservative side. His father, also a Republican, is vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. of Omaha and lives in Southern California.

An anonymous blog called Munger Games, subtitled “Wasting His Patrimony,” accuses Munger Jr. of damaging the party by fighting against conservative candidates and causes, such as his support for a measure banning political contributions by payroll deduction.

Munger ally Harmeet Dhillon of San Francisco filed a federal lawsuit to learn the identity of the blogger, saying the blog used her photo without her permission in violation of copyright laws.

She and Munger suspect that Mike Schroeder is “the brain behind the website,” the story said. He is past state party chairman and “a pillar of the Southern California conservative establishment that has long dominated the party.”

Schroeder's only comment: “I fully support and agree with the principle of Munger Games.”

Munger ran afoul of the conservatives in 2010 when he supported a citizens panel that redrew congressional district boundaries, replacing the political parties that had overseen redistricting.

For young entrepreneurs

It's that time of year again, when thousands of young entrepreneurs devise catchy names and solid business concepts to pitch to Warren Buffett in an effort to win cash and a visit next spring to Omaha.

Jan. 31 is the deadline for entries in the third “Grow Your Own Business” contest through the Secret Millionaires Club online cartoon series. It's sponsored by the Fairholme Foundation, a Miami educational group funded by Fairholme Capital Management.

Budding business types between ages 7 and 14, as individuals or teams, can submit ideas at the club's website via this link. Teachers and parents get involved in the projects, too, although the best ideas come from the kids themselves.

Teachers can win up to $1,000 and trips with their students when the finalists meet with Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. of Omaha. Kids can win up to $5,000.

Entry forms even help guide the youngsters' planning, asking:

» How will your business make money?

» Explain who you will need to help you start your business.

» How much money do you need to set up your business? How do you plan to raise that money?

» Explain what will make your business different from other businesses and why it is likely to succeed.

Seems like the same information the U.S. Small Business Administration needs from applicants for loan guarantees.

An airplane takeover

In case your jet airplane is bogging you down, there's a solution.

Berkshire's NetJets division will buy your plane through a new division, called Aircraft Transition Services, Bloomberg News reported.

Then you can become part of NetJet's fractional ownership plan.

“We have almost 10 big prospects that we're working with right now, so we're pretty excited about it,” said NetJets Vice President Adam Johnson during a recent business aviation conference in Las Vegas.

In case you missed it, the average price for private jets is down 43 percent from a peak in November 2008.

NetJets' size and industry contacts make it a natural to take over the planes, Johnson said. Former owners no longer have to worry about maintenance, safety, flight plans, pilots and permits.

“If you own your own airplane, you're in the business of aviation and there's a lot of work behind that,” he said. “With our program we handle everything.”

No. 1 with rich investors

Seventy Canadian and U.S. multimillionaires who belong to Tiger 21 of New York City say they prefer Berkshire Hathaway among all other investments, replacing Apple Inc. as their top choice, Bloomberg News reported.

Berkshire, the old-fashioned conglomerate with holdings in bricks, boots, candy and carpets, had fallen to No. 3 behind Apple and an investment fund.

Tiger 21 founder and Chairman Michael Sonnenfeldt noted that Apple's price per share has fallen more than one-fourth since its high point in September 2012 and that competitors are challenging the company, which is now without co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011.

Berkshire's stock price, meanwhile, has risen 31 percent this year.

Let's see: Apple is down one-fourth, and Berkshire is up 31 percent.

Can't fool those multimillionaires.

'Kindred spirits' meet

Andrew Davis, who sought a face-to-face meeting with Buffett by writing him letters over the past year, got his wish when the two showed up by coincidence for separate “Today” show appearances on the same day, the Boston Herald reported.

The two were being primped in the studio's “green room” when Davis seized the moment. “I handed him the Monday letter and explained that I've been writing the letters every week. He was very gracious.”

It was a hectic 10 minutes, Davis said. “It's hard to have a meaningful discussion about the future of journalism in that kind of environment.

“I really wanted to look at the publishing industry and all the pessimism there as an opportunity to challenge myself and find new ways to save the business. Warren Buffett seems like a kindred spirit. What better person to help me revitalize the industry?”

Davis, a marketing consultant, was at NBC to discuss how male grocery shoppers are “manfluencing” product changes. Buffett was promoting his son's new book.

Less stock in Tesco

Berkshire sold about $415 million of its stock in Tesco, the Irish Independent reported, a step that investors saw as a setback for the British grocery chain.

That leaves Berkshire with 3.98 percent of the company, which has been a Berkshire holding since 2006 and one of its largest investments outside the United States.

“Investors have privately expressed their frustration about the progress of management's U.K. turnaround plan,” the newspaper reported, although Berkshire didn't give its reasons for selling the shares.

The Omaha World-Herald Co. is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Contact the writer: Steve Jordon

steve.jordon@owh.com    |   402-444-1080    |  

Steve covers banking, insurance, the economy and other topics, including Berkshire Hathaway, Mutual of Omaha and other businesses.

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