Berkshire Hathaway, headed by the world’s fifth-richest man, has reduced its stake in Chinese automaker BYD once again.

The holding company, helmed by Warren Buffett with Charlie Munger serving as vice chairman, now has a 9.87 per cent stake in BYD. This stake is valued at just over US$3 billion (A$4.48bn).

Berkshire Hathaway, which also has sizeable stakes in Kraft Heinz Company, American Express, The Coca-Cola Company and Apple, has sold 1.96 million shares per a regulatory filing this month, valued at US$58.9 million (A$87.96m).

“We don’t want to compete with Elon in a lot of things,” Mr Buffett said at the company’s annual shareholder meeting over the weekend, in response to a question as to whether Mr Buffett believes the Tesla CEO overestimates himself.

“We don’t want that much failure,” Mr Munger added, in remarks reported by Business Insider, which speculated the move could instead be to take profits and redeploy this elsewhere.

Berkshire Hathaway first invested in BYD back in 2008, purchasing 225 million shares for US$232 million, and it had a 21 per cent stake as recently as late 2021.

BYD has supplied Tesla, among other companies, with its batteries.

The Chinese automaker, founded in 1995 as a battery manufacturer, has experienced meteoric growth.

It has become not only a major player in its home market of China, but also commenced widely exporting its products throughout the globe including Australia and Europe.

It overtook Volkswagen as China’s best-selling car brand in the first quarter of 2023, and accounted for around 40 per cent of “new energy vehicle” sales – plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles – in that market.

While Tesla still sold the most EVs of any automaker globally in 2022, BYD was reportedly in second place ahead of SAIC Motor, the Volkswagen Group, and Geely.

William Stopford

William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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