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021133 Buffett Denies Possible Burger King Buy

November 27, 2002

Omaha, NE - Billionaire investor Warren Buffett doused speculation that he was exploring buying fast- food giant Burger King and accused others of spreading false reports.

"Obviously there are people, sometimes, who have a financial interest in spreading rumors in our supposed interest in a business or security when no such interest exists," Buffett said in a statement released through his assistant Wednesday.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the Omaha-based company headed by Buffett, had been mentioned as being among possible bidders for the Miami-based Burger King chain of restaurants.

The chain is being sold by its parent company, Diageo PLC of London, which wants to concentrate on its beverage business.

Buffett and other Berkshire officials in recent weeks have refused to comment on what they described as "only speculation."

Buffett said in the statement he was forced to comment on the Burger King reports after cholesterol fighter Phil Sokolof ran an ad in the Omaha World-Herald on Tuesday asking Buffett not purchase to restaurant chain. An Omaha businessman, Sokolof has spent millions of dollars urging people to stay away from fatty food.

"We never confirm nor deny such rumors. In this case, we made an exception because of Phil Sokolof's ad," Buffett said. "This should emphasize the need for readers of rumors to be suspicious and for the press to properly label rumors as rumors."

Buffett's assistant Debbie Bosanek said Buffett would not comment beyond his prepared statements.

Diageo spokeswoman Isabel Thomas said the company would not have a comment in response to Buffett's statements.

Diageo agreed in July to sell Burger King to a U.S. investor consortium comprising Texas Pacific Group, Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners for $2.26 billion. But the U.S. investors have since insisted on more attractive terms.


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