It was birthday week for the Buffetts in Omaha, and that means Herman’s Hermits, Darlene Love and Tommy James and the Shondells at a private party at the Slowdown nightclub for Susie, who turned 65, and cupcakes for Warren, who turned 88.
To be fair, Warren was among the 250 guests at the party, too, loved it and knew all the songs, said Susie, who apologized for mislaying my invitation.
Those songs include “There’s Kind of a Hush,” “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” and “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat?” by Peter Noone and the Hermits; “Crimson and Clover,” “Mony, Mony” and “I Think We’re Alone Now” by James and the Shondells; and songs like “He’s a Rebel,” “The Boy I’m Gonna Marry” and “Christmas” by Love, who is 77 herself and brought along an outstanding band and backup singers, Susie said.
Actually there were four groups: Husband John Foley and the Firm closed out the evening, with the last tune about 2 a.m. Susie said she and her high school friends were the only ones left on the dance floor.
“They were dancing and singing and carrying on,” said Marian Andersen, who married her late husband, World-Herald publisher Harold Andersen, on the same day as Warren and Susan Buffett. “It was great.”
Susie booked ’60s bands at her 60th birthday party, too, including the Grass Roots and the Buckinghams, but she’s not sure whether the Golden Oldies theme will resume when she’s 70. “I’m not sure any of them will be able to sing,” she said.
Her father’s cupcakes were courtesy of bakers and TD Ameritrade staffers Cortney Kotzian and Brandy Holesko, who created 31 cupcakes and pastry figurines based on the TV show “Better Call Saul,” a Buffett favorite.
The two women and their friend Wendy Jankoski, of Wealth Architects in Englewood, Florida, carried the treats to the Berkshire break room, where Buffett met them for a photo and later, no doubt, sampled the goodies.
ON THE SUBCONTINENT
Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the investment firm headed by Warren Buffett, now has a foothold in India, a country Buffett visited in 2011 in hopes of finding places for Berkshire money as well as meeting fellow philanthropists.
Berkshire’s office confirmed that the company paid $360 million for a 3 percent stake in One97 Communications, which owns Paytm, India’s largest mobile payment company, according to CNN Money.
Berkshire investment manager Todd Combs will become a director of the company, a step that is becoming typical when Berkshire invests in a company. Buffett has indicated he wasn’t involved in the choice, meaning Combs or fellow Berkshire money manager Ted Weschler made the choice.
It’s a different payment world over there, where most transactions are still done in cash. But a government decision in 2016 to cut down on currency in high denominations, an anti-corruption effort, boosted online payment systems like Paytm, which has 300 million users.
It’s a competitive business, with Walmart buying up a company named Flipkart and Amazon, Google and Facebook active in the payments business there, too.
Berkshire has tried to make inroads in Europe as well, with a Buffett visit to Italy and Germany in 2008 followed in 2015 by the $452 million purchase of German motorcycle gear retailer Detlev Louis Motorradvertriebs.
That was a small purchase, on Berkshire’s scale, and so far hasn’t led to bigger acquisitions in Europe. We’ll see whether the new India investment triggers more deals on the subcontinent.
$7.9 MILLION GETAWAY
What to do with a $7.9 million house in Emerald Bay, a gated community in Laguna, California, with views of the Pacific Ocean and a short walk to the beach?
Most likely, knock it down and build something fancier and more modern.
At least that may be the fate of the 1930s-vintage house Buffett bought for $150,000 in 1971 as a vacation getaway for his family, including then-wife Susan and their children and friends. She died in 2004, and the family hasn’t used it much since.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the house went on the market for $11 million in February 2017 but hasn’t sold, so the new price is aimed at reaching more potential buyers. Aside from the location and size — six bedrooms, for example — it’s a modest structure in a neighborhood where a much more elaborate place would fit.
Gray carpet and white laminate countertops, for example, the Orange County Register once reported. What, no granite?
‘A LITTLE’ BUYBACK
Buffett said on CNBC last week that he had bought back “a little” of Berkshire’s stock, following his recent change in how he decides whether to use some of the company’s $120 billion or so in cash to invest in itself.
So that morning Berkshire’s stock price dipped 0.3 percent in the hour after the comment. What’s up with that?
Maybe there’s a little shareholder disappointment that there’s still no big, profitable acquisition on the horizon for Berkshire. Plus, Berkshire’s stock price is already up 14 percent in the past two months, partly because investors expected just such buybacks after Buffett gave himself more leeway in deciding on buybacks.
The Omaha Word-Herald is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.