Warren Buffett, 93, donates more Berkshire stock, assures ‘I feel good’

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) -Warren Buffett said on Tuesday he has donated about $866 million of Berkshire Hathaway stock to four family charities, and told shareholders “I feel good” as he moves nearer the sunset of his storied investing career.

In a regulatory filing, the company said Buffett donated 1.5 million Class B shares of Berkshire to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation. Named for his late first wife, the organization works in reproductive health.

Buffett donated another 900,000 Class B shares, divided evenly among charities run by his children, Howard, Susan and Peter: the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the Sherwood Foundation and the NoVo Foundation.

The donations supplement the $759 million of Berkshire stock that Buffett donated to the charities at this time last year, also just before the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Buffett also issued a rare letter to shareholders, again pledging that more than 99% of his wealth would go to charity, with his children serving as executors of his will. He said Berkshire was “built to last” and would remain in good hands.

While Buffett has curbed his non-Berkshire responsibilities over the years, he has never publicly signaled a desire to step down, including after a prostate cancer diagnosis in 2012.

“At 93, I feel good but fully realize I am playing in extra innings,” Buffett said in the letter.

Buffett has over the years often referred to his success at remaining healthy despite having the eating habits of a 6-year-old, including a love of junk food and sugary drinks.

“I think happiness makes an enormous amount of difference in terms of … longevity,” he told CNBC in April. “I’m happier when I’m eating hot fudge sundaes or drinking Coke.”

Berkshire did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

Greg Abel, 61, a Berkshire vice chairman, is slated to succeed Buffett as Berkshire’s CEO, while Howard Buffett would become non-executive chairman.

“We have the right CEO to succeed me and the right board of directors,” Buffett wrote.

Buffett is the world’s fifth richest person, with a $120.5 billion fortune, according to Forbes magazine.

Since 2006 he has donated more than half his Berkshire stock to the family charities and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The donations totaled close to $52 billion at the time they were made, with the Gates Foundation receiving more than $39 billion.

Buffett has run Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire since 1965.

The conglomerate owns dozens of businesses including the BNSF railroad, Geico car insurance, energy and industrial companies, and familiar consumer brands such as Dairy Queen and Fruit of the Loom.

It also recently owned more than $318 billion of stocks, about half of which was Apple.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation focuses on alleviating hunger, mitigating conflicts, combating human trafficking and improving public safety. The Sherwood Foundation supports nonprofits in Nebraska, and the NoVo Foundation has initiatives focused on girls and women.

(Reporting by Bhanvi Satija in Bengaluru and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Lisa Shumaker, David Gregorio, Shri Navaratnam and Leslie Adler)