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Warren Buffett buys shares in Viacom

Investor acquires 1.59 mil shares; CEO Dauman sells stock

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has acquired 1.59 million shares in Viacom even as CEO Philippe Dauman sold down his stake in the media company, according to regulatory filings Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The move is the latest showbiz foray for Berkshire, which disclosed investments in satcaster DirecTV and John Malone’s Liberty Media earlier this year.

Dauman sold 286,447 shares on May 11 at about $48 a share “for personal financial planning purposes,” a Viacom spokesman said. That amounts to 25% of his Class B shares. The filing said that after the sale Dauman owned 735,496 shares.

The sale comes ahead of a hike in the capital gains tax in January.

A person familiar with the transaction said the shares sold represent 3% of Dauman’s total equity securities in Viacom, including options. Dauman and chief financial officer Thomas Dooley bought $5 million worth of shares when they joined the company in 2006.

Buffett’s firm disclosed its chunk in Viacom, a new investment, as of the end of the first quarter. The storied Nebraska-based holding company has been bulking up on media under his new deputies Todd Combs and Ted Weschler. Buffett, a famed investor known as the Oracle of Omaha, hired the two former hedge fund managers recently with an eye to succession. Buffett is in his 80s and fighting prostate cancer.

His fame is such that 40,000 shareholders flocked to Berkshire’s annual meeting earlier this month in Omaha to drink in his views of stocks and markets during hours of Q&A. As usual, the firm rented a local convention center for the massive annual event, which is known as the Woodstock of Capitalism.

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