By Anupreeta Das
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BKRA, BRKB) bought nearly 3 million shares of Liberty Global PLC, the Europe-focused cable operator controlled by John Malone, during the fourth quarter, a likely endorsement of the company's aggressive global expansion strategy.
Berkshire also substantially raised its stake in General Electric Co. (GE) and now owns about 10.5 million shares of the diversified industrial conglomerate, according to a Friday regulatory filing. The Omaha, Neb.-based conglomerate modestly raised its stake in Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) after buying into the company in the third quarter, and now owns about 41 million shares that were valued at just over $4 billion at the end of the fourth quarter.
Valued at about $263 million at the end of the fourth quarter, the Liberty Global position was probably purchased by one of Mr. Buffett's two investment managers, who each have over $7 billion to manage.
By contrast, Berkshire cut its stake in Liberty Media Corp. (LMCA, LMCB) by about 1 million shares. It now owns about 4.5 million shares that were valued at $775 million at the end of the last quarter. It also cut stakes in companies such as ConocoPhillips (COP) and Moodys Corp. (MCO), while increasing its holdings of Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) and construction materials company USG Corp. (USG).
Mr. Malone, who also controls Englewood, Co.-based Liberty Media, lost out this week on his bid to consolidate the U.S. cable industry after Comcast Corp. (CMCSA, CMCSK) struck a $45 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC). Mr. Malone had backed a rival offer for Time Warner by Charter Communications (CHTR), in which Liberty Media owns a stake.
Berkshire also sold roughly 550,000 shares of DISH Network Corp. (DISH) during the latest quarter, exiting its position in the satellite operator. However, it continues to own $2.5 billion worth of stock in DISH's rival DirecTV. Mr. Malone also owns a big chunk of DirecTV.
Write to Anupreeta Das at firstname.lastname@example.org
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