Billionaire News: Warren Buffett, George Soros, T. Boone Pickens, David Einhorn

Editor’s Note: Related tickers: Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (NYSE:STP), LDK Solar Co., Ltd (NYSE:LDK), Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A)

Warren BuffettSuntech eyes Italy asset sale, LDK defaults (SCMP)
A restructuring storm continues to blow through China’s battered solar sector, with word of a potential major asset sale by Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (NYSE:STP) and a debt default by LDK Solar Co., Ltd (NYSE:LDK). Of these two news bits, the Suntech one is easily the most interesting as it finally helps to make sense of reports last week that billionaire investor Warren Buffett might want to buy the former solar superstar that last month declared bankruptcy. But Suntech investors will be disappointed to learn the latest reports don’t seem to include a major cash infusion from Buffett, who isn’t really known for investing in such troubled assets. All that said, let’s take a look at the latest Chinese media reports, which say that Suntech may be looking to sell its Italian assets as part of its bankruptcy restructuring. The main asset up for sale would be its 88 per cent stake in GSF, a fund that was building solar plants in Italy mostly using Suntech-supplied solar panels. Some readers may recall that Suntech came under fire last year after disclosing its relationship with GSF, since it was using sales to the firm to inflate its own revenue figures.

Why Buffett thinks investing in gold is stupid (MarketWatch)
Perhaps my favorite take on gold investing comes from Warren Buffett, the iconic investor behind Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A). Delivered at Harvard in 1998, it goes a little something like this: …The idea is simple: There is no use for gold, only some arbitrary “value” we place on it. Sure, gold was historically used as currency — but why not Cowry shells, which were one of the earliest forms of currency in China? Just because it’s rare and some people value it doesn’t mean that gold is an “investment,” especially to someone like Warren Buffett who is concerned with statistics like book value and cash flow. More recently, in 2009, he echoed these thoughts in a CNBC interview. He was asked, “Where do you think gold will be in five years and should that be a part of value investing?”

Buffett Mocking Gold Sidesteps Slump as Berkshire Bets on Stocks (SFGate)
Investors including hedge-fund manager John Paulson faced losses this week as gold suffered its biggest rout in three decades. Warren Buffett told them there were better places to put their money. The billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) cautioned against investing in the metal in February 2012, when an ounce sold for more than $1,700, because it’s not productive like a farm or company. Gold fell 14 percent to $1,348.21 in the two trading days through April 15, the biggest decline since 1983, and wiped out almost $1 billion in Paulson’s wealth. Prices rebounded to $1,384.71 at 10:51 a.m. in New York today.

RICHARD RUSSELL: I See A Bearish Pattern In The Latest Buffett, Paulson, And Soros Trades (BusinessInsider)
Richard Russell, the veteran technician and long-time author The Dow Theory Letters, has been a gold bull for as long as we can remember. And the latest plunge in gold prices doesn’t have him worried. “Does this mean that the great gold bull market is over?,” he asked via King World News. “My intuition says no — I believe we have not seen the end of the gold bull market. However, I do think that this is the “wipe-out, clear-out” correction that will leave gold free of late-comers and non-believers.” Russell finds some solace in the actions of billionaire investors Warren Buffett, John Paulson, and George Soros.

George Soros’ Son Is Selling His NYC Townhouse With A Rooftop Basketball Court For $12 Million (BusinessInsider)
Two years ago, George Soros’ son bought a townhouse in Little Italy with a domed basketball court on the roof for $11,999,900 million. Now he’s selling it for $12 million, says Curbed NY. Wonder what he’ll do with that extra $100… The five story townhouse has four bedrooms, a sick roof terrace (there’s a basketball court up there, remember), and a garden. Jed Garfield, Matthew Pravda, and Christopher Ricchio of Leslie Garfield Real Estate have the listing.

Ex-Advisor Of George Soros: Japan’s Finance Is Sinking Into The Ocean (Inserbia)
“The volatility in the Japanese government bonds market as well as the fact that there is large selling represent fear among investors,” Fujimaki said. “They are early signs of a larger sell off and we should continue to monitor the moves in the long-term bonds.” The former advisor of George Soros has made large bearish bets on Japanese government bonds of various maturities but he declined to offer more specific details regarding his trades. Fujimaki accuses Bank of Japan of recklessness in its attempt to jumpstart the economy with monetary stimulus. Bank of Japan’s “QE announcement is declaring double suicide with the government. The BOJ will have to share the country’s fate and default together,” he told the press.

Dallas oil billionaire sues his OWN son for defamation and extortion over tell-all blog about life in one of America’s richest families (DailyMail)
A billionaire oil magnate from Texas is embroiled in a bitter court battle with his son over a tell-all blog chronicling his drug and alcohol abuse and family rows. Thomas Boone Pickens, 85, is taking legal action against his 58-year-old son Michael Pickens over his blog, 5 Days In Connecticut, in which the younger man denounces his family, accusing them of abuse and theft. Mr Pickens Sr, who made a $1.4bn fortune buying and selling oil companies, is said to have launched legal proceedings after what began as a blog about Mr Pickens Jr’s health problems became more personal and offensive.

Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens speaking at Clemson (TheState)
Energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens is visiting Clemson University to give a talk on leadership. Pickens is giving a lecture on Thursday at the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts. His talk is free and open to the public. The Holdenville, Okla., native is a descendent of Revolutionary War hero and congressman Andrew Pickens, for whom South Carolina’s Pickens County is named. A graduate of Oklahoma State University, Pickens is a generous philanthropist, giving more than $1 billion in donations to various efforts in his lifetime. He has given more than $500 million in support of academics and athletics at his alma mater.

Texan oil investor T Boone Pickens in bitter family legal dispute (Telegraph)
As an 85-year-old Texan billionaire oil investor, Thomas Boone Pickens should be enjoying a comfortable retirement. But instead of kicking back on his vast Dallas ranch, T. Boone Pickens – as he is universally known – is facing a bitter family legal dispute. Mr Pickens, who made his $1.4 billion (£918 million) fortune as a business magnate and financier, is taking legal action against his son Michael, after the 58-year-old began writing an inflammatory blog attacking his family. Michael Pickens’ blog, titled “5 Days in Connecticut”, begins as a diary detailing his struggle with alcohol and drug abuse.

Hedge Fund Billionaires John Paulson And David Einhorn Lost $640M In Gold Market Collapse (Forbes)
The gold bloodbath that hit the market over the past two trading sessions has definitely caused a dent in the portfolio of billionaire hedge fund managers. John Paulson and David Einhorn suffered combined losses of more than $640 million since Friday, according to their latest SEC filings, with the bulk concentrated in the former’s massive position in the SPDR Gold ETF. Einhorn’s Greenlight took a big hit on its holdings of the gold miners ETF. An implosion that appears to have started in the gold market last Friday spread throughout the commodities complex on Monday, with everything from crude oil to soybeans falling. Physical gold lost more than $200 per ounce, sliding nearly 15% over the past two trading sessions.

Sharp drop in gold caught many funds off guard – Burbank (Reuters)
Hedge fund manager John Burbank, a long-time investor in gold, said the recent sharp selloff in the precious metal came as a surprise to many investors as some economic improvement and a general decline in commodity prices took their toll. …Daniel Loeb’s Third Point Capital Management told investors that gold was one of his five biggest losers during the first quarter. Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn told investors that gold ranks among his five biggest holdings. He has not yet told investors how gold performed for his fund and whether he had hedged for the sell-off.

Gold ekes out gain after extending slide to 2-year low (Reuters)
Gold recovered on Tuesday after buyers of physical bullion jumped in at cheaper prices following Monday’s historic plunge, but the market had trouble sustaining gains and there was little confidence that gold’s selloff had run its course. Gold extended its decline to a two-year low overnight before steadying. The yellow metal’s historic selloff in the last two sessions prompted investors to assess the damage to bullion’s status as a hedge against inflation and currency depreciation. …Traders cited liquidation by hedge funds in gold ETFs. Prominent hedge fund manager John Paulson told clients earlier this month his gold fund suffered double-digit losses in the first quarter, while David Einhorn’s dedicated gold fund lost 28 percent during the same period.

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