Berkshire’s German “Eyes and Ear” Scouts Acquisition Targets

Berkshire Hathaway is known to rely on outside input to identify potential acquisition targets, and one particular European-based scout has become Buffett’s “eyes and ears” in Germany. This according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.

Zypora Kupferberg, who has run an independent consulting firm since 1997, gained a reputation as an “astute deal maker, but was largely unknown outside of the country,” the article says. In 2014, one of her clients asked Kupferberg to find buyers for their German motorcycle apparel company, and “she placed one name at the top of her list: Warren Buffett”—her rationale being that Berkshire “tends to seek out successful firms with strong competitive advantages that can be left alone.”

Although some doubted her ability to get the Oracle’s ear, Kupferberg used connections to get a letter on Buffett’s desk. According to the article, he “responded within days asking for a price.” Although the initial asking price was too high, Kupferberg subsequently presented a modified offer, which led to the deal closing in 2015.

Since then, according to WSJ, Kupferberg’s role “could become more crucial as Mr. Buffett looks for new targets in unfamiliar markets.” In May, the German scout traveled to Omaha for her first meeting with Buffett, discussing potential investments and the economic situation in Germany and Europe. While posing for a photo, the article reports, Buffett commented, “She has a very good sense of what might fit or not.”