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Chinese fund manager pays $2m for lunch with Buffett

Omaha, Nebraska - A Chinese investment fund manager has won the chance to have lunch with US billionaire Warren Buffett, by bidding $2.1 million (R16 million) in the most expensive charity auction held on eBay.

Zhao Danyang of the Hong Kong-based Pureheart China Growth Investment Fund won the auction, which ended on Friday. The auction will provide a significant boost to the Glide Foundation, which receives all the proceeds from event.

The foundation provides social services to the poor and homeless in San Francisco. Denise Lamott, the spokesperson for Glide, said it operated on a $12 million annual budget.

“It almost feels like a miracle,” said the Glide Foundation’s founder, Cecil Williams. “We are amazed and ready to continue our work of breaking the cycles of poverty.”

Last year’s lunch brought in $650 100. Zhao and up to seven friends will dine with Buffett at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in New York.

The investment philosophy Zhao’s fund describes on its website is similar to Buffett’s approach of finding companies with an enduring competitive advantage.

Buffett, the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, is primarily known for his investing success. Berkshire owns more than 60 subsidiaries, including insurance, clothing, furniture, jewellery and candy companies, restaurants, natural gas and corporate jet firms.

He has major investments in leading companies such as Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch and Wells Fargo.

But Buffett is also known for his philanthropy. In 2006, he announced his plan to give away the bulk of his fortune of nearly $49 billion over time.

Most of his Berkshire stock will go to five charitable foundations, with the largest going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Lamott said eBay officials had confirmed that this year’s lunch with Buffett was the most expensive charity item the site had sold.

Buffett has been auctioning off lunches online for six years, but began auctioning the lunches for Glide off line in 2000. He offers only one lunch a year.

Williams called Buffett’s dedication to the charity lunches amazing. “Thank you, Warren Buffett, for your deep compassion and sensitivity that empower us to transform the lives of so many people in need.” - Busrep

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