Warren Buffett to Leave Washington Post Co. Board

Warren Buffett, the investor whose guidance is considered gospel by many on Wall Street, is leaving his long-held position on the board of the Washington Post Company.

Warren Buffett is leaving his position on the board of the Washington Post Company.Nati Harnik/Associated Press Warren Buffett is leaving the board of the Washington Post Company.

The Post Company announced on Thursday that Mr. Buffett, 80, would not seek re-election to the board after his term expires in May. Mr. Buffett has been with the board for nearly 40 years, with the exception of an eight-year period when he stepped aside to serve on the board of Capital Cities, which was the parent company of the rival media company ABC at the time.

Mr. Buffett’s move was the latest to signal that he is winding down his long and successful career. In October, he named an heir apparent to manage the investments at his company, Berkshire Hathaway. And in 2006 he relinquished his seat on the board of Coca-Cola.

“For most of the last 37 years, we’ve been privileged to have on our board perhaps the best adviser any company could have had throughout that period,” said Donald E. Graham, chairman of the Post Company.

“Warren has encouraged us to continue to consult him on company matters, and with the encouragement of our board, calls to the 402 area code will not be decreasing,” Mr. Graham added, referring to the area code for Omaha, where Mr. Buffett lives and his company is based.

Berkshire Hathaway, which also owns The Buffalo News, is the largest shareholder in Post stock. It owns about 21 percent, or 1.7 million, of the publicly traded shares.

Mr. Buffett was an adviser and close friend to Katharine Graham, the longtime Post Company chairwoman.

What effect, if any, the departure of Mr. Buffett will have on the company or its image is unclear. The Post stock price rose slightly in midday trading, to just over $430 a share. The association of Mr. Buffett with a particular company is widely seen by investors as a tacit blessing from him and therefore interpreted as a sign that the company is a valuable investment.

A spokeswoman for the Post Company said Berkshire Hathaway had not indicated any intention to decrease its holdings of Post stock.

Mr. Buffett made a brief statement in which he stressed his faith in the Post Company, which like many media companies with a large print business is facing significant economic challenges. It has also struggled as its profitable Kaplan division has been criticized for enrolling needy students who have little means with which to repay their loans.

“I’ve loved The Washington Post since I delivered almost 500,000 copies of it as a youth in Washington,” Mr. Buffett said. “That love for the product, the company and the management continues unabated today. I will always be available to help management in any way they request. It’s been a great 37 years.”

By JEREMY W. PETERS (Business Insider)

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