Sunday, November 23, 2008

Buffett says Detroit automakers must change

Warren Buffett gave his thoughts on the automakers in a recent interview:
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said U.S. automakers need a new business model to better compete, whether it takes bankruptcy or a government bailout to achieve.

Buffett said any automaker bailout package should include a business solution and be negotiated by the president, not Congress.

The government should insist top executives at Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC invest a significant percentage of their own net worth in the Detroit-based companies, Buffett said, ensuring both executives and taxpayers would share in any profits or losses.

Buffett said the government should be able to drive a deal like one of the ones he makes when Berkshire buys businesses, because automakers appear on the brink of bankruptcy.

Buffett said he'd tell the auto executives, "'We'll give you more upside [than bankruptcy], but you're going to lose if we lose."'

Bankruptcy would be a poor solution for the auto industry, Buffett said, so he hopes a better way can be found to work out the union contracts and other issues the companies face.

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