May 1 (Reuters) - Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) (BRKb.N) will hold its annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday, is the world’s second-richest person, and perhaps America’s most-revered capitalist.
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* Buffett, 78, bought Berkshire, a struggling textile mill, in 1965. Berkshire’s market value is now roughly $145 billion. Berkshire owns close to 80 companies, including auto insurer Geico, reinsurer General Re, ice cream maker Dairy Queen and utility MidAmerican Energy. It ended last year with $49.1 billion of stock investments -- down from $75 billion a year earlier -- in companies such as American Express Co (AXP.N), Coca-Cola Co (KO.N), Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N) and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N).
* According to Berkshire’s latest proxy filing, as of Feb. 28, Buffett owned 350,000 Class A shares of Berkshire, equal to 33.1 percent of shares outstanding, and 2,018,105 Class B shares, equal to 13.7 percent. He owned 26.9 percent of Berkshire in aggregate and controlled 31.8 percent of the company’s voting power.
* Berkshire’s stock price is high, trading in the last year for high five-figure and low six-figure amounts for a Class “A” share, because there are few shares outstanding. Buffett does not believe in stock splits and encourages long-term investing. Berkshire in 1996 introduced Class “B” shares valued at 1/30th of Class “A” shares. It has not declared a cash dividend since 1967.
* Buffett has nearly all his net worth, estimated in March at $40 billion by Forbes magazine, invested in Berkshire. He has said every Berkshire share he has will go to philanthropies after his death. In June 2006, he pledged 85 percent of his net worth to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four family charities. He supports several charities, including Girls Inc, a social service agency, and the Glide Foundation, a San Francisco nonprofit offering programs for the poor, hungry and homeless.
* Buffett was the subject of a best-selling biography last year, “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life,” by former insurance analyst Alice Schroeder. The title comes from a metaphor Buffett uses to describe the accumulation in life of knowledge and understanding. Schroeder spent hundreds of hours with her subject and got access to his files, and Buffett even told her to “use the less flattering version” when his recollections differed from others. But the relationship has since grown more distant, and Schroeder has said she is not appearing at the traditional Friday night signing of Buffett-themed books at a Dairy Queen in Omaha.
* Buffett tells his shareholders that he thinks of them as “owner-partners” who will retain their part-ownership in Berkshire indefinitely. He regularly speaks to students about his ideas about investing and life.
* Buffett draws a $100,000 annual salary to run Berkshire.
* Buffett drinks five cans of Cherry Coke a day.
* Buffett has lived in the same house for a half-century, a 10-room, five-bedroom home on less than three-quarters of an acre in Omaha, near his office. The home was assessed at $727,600 last year.
* Buffett plays ukulele and is a bridge partner of Bill Gates, the Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) chairman and Berkshire director. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in Omaha, Nebraska; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)