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Unsealed SEC Filing Show Buffett Ownership of McDonald’s

March 6, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A newly unsealed document confirms market speculation that billionaire investor Warren Buffett acquired a large stake in McDonald’s Corp. in late 1994.

Buffett’s main investment vehicle, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., held 4.9 million shares of McDonald’s as of Dec. 31, 1994, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Due to the age of the filing, it’s unknown if Berkshire has added to its McDonald’s holdings or sold its stake, but Buffett has a reputation as a long-term investor.

Marc D. Hamburg, vice president of the Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire, didn’t return a telephone call Wednesday seeking comment.

The 4.9 million shares were worth $143.8 million at the end of 1994, according to the SEC filing, but now they’d be worth about $258.5 million, a gain of $114.7 million.

Berkshire’s 1994 holdings of the Oak Brook, Ill. fast food giant represent less than 1 percent of McDonald’s 696.3 million currently outstanding common shares, according to CDA-Investnet, a corporate data company. Market analysts suspected Buffett was acquiring McDonald’s stock in late 1994, according to Federal Filings Inc., which tracks SEC documents.

Berkshire requested confidential treatment of the 1994 filing, which the SEC granted until Feb. 15 of this year, at which time the document became public. Securities laws require disclosure of certain long-term investments in companies, particularly those which total more than 5 percent of a company’s outstanding shares. The SEC, however, will grant confidential treatment of investments less than 5 percent for up to one year.

USA Today first reported about the filing in Wednesday’s editions.

Wall Street analysts scrutinize Berkshire Hathaway’s investment activities because of Buffett’s legendary success at picking winning stocks for the long haul. Buffett’s stock in Berkshire is worth an estimated $16.6 billion.

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