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Ad Urges Buffett Not to Buy Burger King Chain

November 27, 2002|Barry Bedlan | Associated Press

OMAHA -- A retired industrialist who has spent millions urging Americans to stay away from fatty foods is asking billionaire investor Warren Buffett not to purchase the Burger King chain.

Omaha businessman Phil Sokolof ran an open-letter ad in Tuesday's Omaha World-Herald addressed to Buffett, who also lives in Omaha, where his investment company, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., is based.

"Buying a mammoth business whose incredibly high-calorie, horribly high-fat foods lead to obesity, diabetes and heart disease would be unconscionable for a man of your stature," the letter said.

Berkshire Hathaway has been mentioned as a possible bidder for Miami-based Burger King. The chain is being sold by its parent company, Diageo of London.

Berkshire officials have declined to comment on what they described as speculation. Buffett's office did not return a call for comment Tuesday.

Burger King's vice president of corporate communications, Rob Doughty, said Sokolof's statements were unfounded.

"He's making uneducated statements," Doughty said.

Burger King was the first chain to offer burgers made from vegetable byproducts, and it is expanding its salad choices, Doughty said. He also said the restaurant has long allowed its customers to make health-conscious changes to their orders.

"It's about consumer choice. Consumers have responsibility for their diets," he said.

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