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Buffett and Munger sound off on Brexit at Berkshire meeting: 'horrible' and 'a mistake'

Javier E. David
Editor focused on markets and the economy

The United Kingdom’s chaotic effort to divorce itself from the European Union was “a mistake” that hasn’t lessened Warren Buffett’s ability to buy a British-based asset, the billionaire investor said on Saturday at Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Shareholder Meeting.

The aftermath of the 2016 vote has left British politics in tatters, as politicians struggle to find consensus. In local elections this week, both the ruling Tories and the opposition Labour Party were hammered by voters frustrated by the impasse.

Buffett said the uncertainty was not necessarily a barrier to doing a deal, and reiterated his desire to buy assets in Europe. In a recent interview with the Financial Times, the Oracle of Omaha said he was eager to pull off a deal in Great Britain.

“If I get a call tomorrow, and somebody says ...‘I’ve got the next billion-dollar company that might make sense for you to own’... I’ll get on the plane” and make a deal, Buffett told the audience.

Mindful of his experience with Kraft Heinz, however, he cautioned that it would depend on the price.

[Click here for coverage of the 2019 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting.]

“We’re hoping for a deal in the UK or Europe, no matter how Brexit comes out,” Buffett added. However, he sharply criticized the decision to leave the EU.

"I'm not an Englishman, but I have a feeling that it was a mistake to vote to leave. But ... it doesn't destroy my appetite" for a big acquisition,” Buffett said.

Berkshire vice chair Charlie Munger also chided the U.K.’s move as a negative.

"It just strikes me as a horrible problem, and I'm glad it's theirs and not mine,” Munger added.

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