NEW YORK (Reuters) - Billionaire investing icon Warren Buffett said on Tuesday there are dozens of countries in which his sprawling Berkshire Hathaway Inc BRKa.N conglomerate would be interested in buying new businesses.
Berkshire earlier this year agreed to acquire a German motorcycle apparel and accessories retailer - a purchase that Buffett described as an advertisement to markets that he is shopping abroad.
“It was an ad. It was an ad that paid us,” said Buffett, 85, who over the past five decades has built Berkshire Hathaway into one of the world’s most valuable companies.
Buffett - the world’s third richest person, according to Forbes, with a fortune of $72.7 billion - is avidly followed by investors, and his opinions on companies and assets move markets globally.
He spoke to Reuters in an interview while in New York for the Glide Foundation’s 16th annual event charity lunch. Glide is a nonprofit in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district that provides food, healthcare, rehabilitation and other services to the poor and homeless.
Buffett said he is most likely to hunt for acquisition targets in big economies.
“I like larger economies simply because we want to buy things of size, but there’s dozens of countries I would be delighted to buy in,” he said. “The price would have to be right too.”
Buffett is particularly known for acquisitions: Berkshire Hathaway now includes more than 80 companies, selling everything from ice cream to insurance.
While the so-called Oracle of Omaha has consistently said he wants to keep a $20 billion cash cushion on hand, that still leaves him a significant bankroll for buying more companies.
Berkshire Hathaway ended the second quarter with $66.59 billion of cash. Since then the company announced it had agreed to purchase Precision Castparts Corp PCP.N in a deal that values the maker of aerospace and other parts at $32.3 billion.
Berkshire Hathaway also recently issued debt in euros, and Buffett said he would consider issuing more debt in the future denominated in foreign currencies.
He said Berkshire Hathaway would need to have ample assets in the currency of any future bonds it issues.
In politics, Buffett praised Democrat Hillary Clinton, who is vying for her party’s nomination for the presidency, saying she would “work like the dickens” should she win the November 2016 election.
Nevertheless, he did suggest that Clinton’s proposal to offer tax cuts for profit-sharing firms might not be the best option.
“To prescribe how much they (employers) pay, or how they pay it ... I don’t think that works well in the market economy,” Buffett said.
Clinton has faced increased pressure on the left from Vermont’s Bernie Sanders. While Buffett praised Sanders’ campaigning skills, he has said previously that he is unlikely to vote for the progressive senator.
While market economies do produce some inequality, Buffett said, he lamented that so many Americans now find themselves struggling in the world’s biggest economy.
To help combat poverty, Buffett called for a “significantly” larger earned income tax credit for lower income Americans.
Reporting by Luciana Lopez and Jessica DiNapoli; Editing by Tom Brown