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Buffett lowers PetroChina stake

September 13, 2007|From the Associated Press

HONG KONG — Warren Buffett has cut his stake in PetroChina Co. to 9.72% amid calls for him to sever ties to the firm because of its investments in Sudan.

Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. sold 92.66 million shares Aug. 29, according to a company filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange Wednesday. In July, Omaha-based Berkshire cut its holding to 10.96% from 11.05%.

Still, Berkshire Hathaway remains PetroChina's second-largest shareholder after its Chinese government-owned parent, China National Petroleum Corp.

"Buffett probably thinks the valuation of PetroChina is a bit stretched, so he trimmed the stake . . . to take profit," said Ben Kwong, chief operating officer of brokerage KGI Asia Ltd.

Some shareholders want Berkshire to divest itself of PetroChina to protest its parent's dealings in Sudan, where ethnic fighting in the Darfur region has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions.

Buffett has rejected the request. Analysts doubted that the sales reflected any change in Berkshire's stance on that issue.

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