Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s right-hand man, dies aged 99

Investing

Billionaire investment guru Charlie Munger, renowned for amassing vast wealth before joining forces with Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway, passed away at the age of 99.
Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Charlie Munger attends the annual Berkshire shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, May 3, 2019. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

The company was informed by Munger’s family members that he passed away “peacefully” at a California hospital on Tuesday morning (local time). In a statement,93-year-old Buffett remarked, “Without Charlie’s insight, sagacity, and involvement, Berkshire Hathaway would never have reached its current eminent position.”

Munger, who was vice chairman of US conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway from 1978 until his death, was a billionaire in his own right, with Forbes estimating his net worth to be US$2.7 billion.

And the relationship began way back in 1959, when Munger met Buffett at a dinner in their hometown of Omaha. The pair continued to stay in touch, while Munger developed his career as a real estate attorney until the 60s, when he switched gears to focus on investing.

Munger had a successful career as an investor, running his own firm between 1962 and 1975, generating outsized returns, according to Buffett’s famous essay, The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville.

By 1965, Buffett had taken control of Berkshire Hathaway as chair and CEO, and instilled Munger as vice chairman. Since then, Buffett has credited Munger for his approach to value investing. In a 2014 letter to shareholders, Buffett said this of Munger: From my perspective, though, Charlie’s most important architectural feat was the design of today’s Berkshire. The blueprint he gave me was simple: Forget what you know about buying fair businesses at wonderful prices; instead, buy wonderful businesses at fair prices.

And Munger had some recent hot takes on crypto and AI. In February last year, Munger called crypto a “disease”, and warned investors not to treat the stock market like a “gambling parlour”. At Berkshire’s 2023 annual meeting, Munger said while we would “see a lot more robotics in the world” he was skeptical of “the hype” around AI, adding, “I think old-fashioned intelligence works pretty well”.

At the same time, he warned value investors that tough times were ahead. “I think value investors are going to have a harder time now that there’s so many of them competing versus a diminished bunch of opportunities, so my advice to value investors is to get used to making less,” he said.

Munger was also a fan of Warren Buffett’s successor, who was revealed to be the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy and the vice chairman of non-insurance operations, Greg Abel. At the company’s annual meeting in May 2021, Munger said of Abel, “Greg will keep the culture”.

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