March 3, 2020 / 10:36 PM / 3 months ago

Berkshire Hathaway to hold May 2 annual meeting, despite coronavirus, but may curb events

(Reuters) - Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N), the conglomerate run Warren Buffett, said it will hold its annual shareholder meeting on May 2 despite the coronavirus outbreak, but may curtail some of the surrounding events.

FILE PHOTO: Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett walks through the exhibit hall as shareholders gather to hear from the billionaire investor at Berkshire Hathaway Inc's annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Scott Morgan/File Photo

In a statement posted on its website here, Berkshire said the meeting will take place as scheduled "irrespective of conditions at that time."

The Omaha, Nebraska-based company also said the scope of the meeting and related events “may be modified by circumstances at the time,” but it had no current plans to do so.

Berkshire’s annual shareholder weekend, which Buffett refers to as Woodstock for Capitalists, is the largest gathering in corporate America.

It typically draws 40,000 or more people to Omaha for a three-day weekend that includes the meeting, discounts on products from Berkshire businesses, a picnic, a 5-kilometer run, and dinner for a select few at Gorat’s steakhouse.

The meeting is scheduled to be live-streamed for a fifth year by Yahoo Finance, letting people watch Buffett and longtime Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger answer five hours of shareholder questions without having to travel.

Many companies have restricted travel, including domestic travel, for employees in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which began in China and has spread to 80 nations.

Buffett told CNBC on Feb. 24 he expected that many of the several thousand visitors from China who typically visit Omaha for the Berkshire weekend will not attend this year.

The 89-year-old billionaire is widely popular in China, and prior meetings have been available through Yahoo Finance in Mandarin as well as English.

Berkshire owns more than 90 businesses including the BNSF railroad, Geico auto insurer and Dairy Queen ice cream, and its investments include Chinese electric car maker BYD Co Ltd (1211.HK) (002594.SZ).

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York

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