Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway trims its stake in Chinese EV maker BYD to 6.9%

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Warren Buffett speaks during the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska on May 4, 2024. 

Berkshire Hathaway, an early investor in BYD thanks to the late Charlie Munger, continued to trim its massive stake in China’s biggest electric vehicle maker.

Warren Buffett’s conglomerate has sold an additional 1.3 million Hong Kong-listed shares of BYD for $39.8 million, according to a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange. The sale reduced Berkshire’s holding to 6.9%, from 7%.

The conglomerate first bought about 225 million shares of Shenzhen-based BYD in 2008 for around $230 million. The bet turned out to be extremely lucrative as the EV market saw explosive growth in China and elsewhere.

Berkshire had offloaded half of its holding through sales in 2022 and 2023 after BYD skyrocketed nearly 600% to a record high in April 2022 from the start of 2008.

Hong Kong’s rules only require a filing when a stake percentage crosses a whole number, so if Berkshire’s stake falls below 6%, there will be another filing.

Munger’s influence

Founded by Wang Chuanfu, BYD started making batteries for mobile phones back in the 1990s. By 2003, the company had pivoted to autos and has since become the top car brand in China, as well as a major producer of EV batteries.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, BYD dethroned Tesla as the world’s top EV maker, selling more battery-powered vehicles than its U.S. rival.

Buffett said in 2010 that Munger, the late vice chairman of Berkshire, “deserves 100 percent of the credit for BYD.” Munger was introduced to BYD by his friend Li Lu, founder of Seattle-based asset manager Himalaya Capital.

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