Buffett Says Bank of America CEO Was Matchmaker on Occidental Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Warren Buffett said it was a phone call from Bank of America Corp.’s chief executive officer that sparked his $10 billion investment in Occidental Petroleum Corp.

“Last Friday, I got a call in the middle of the afternoon from Brian Moynihan, the CEO of Bank of America, and he said that they were involved in financing the Occidental deal and that the Occidental people would like to talk to me,” Buffett said in a CNBC interview aired Friday.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. agreed earlier this week to make the investment in Occidental to help the oil producer with its $38 billion bid for Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Berkshire will receive preferred shares and warrants, while Occidental gets the financial backing of a billionaire investor whose company has $112 billion in cash.

Buffett, who earlier this year called Moynihan “the most underestimated bank executive in the country,” said the transaction makes sense for both parties, but oil prices will be “enormously important” in the long run. Buffett has long had close ties with Bank of America, and Berkshire is now the bank’s largest shareholder.

The deal started to come together over the weekend, the same time that flight-tracking data showed an Occidental plane in Buffett’s hometown in Nebraska, spurring speculation about his potential involvement in the negotiations. The billionaire, whose annual shareholder meeting kicks off Saturday in Omaha, took that as an opportunity to plug his NetJets business.

“I should point out to anybody out there who wants to do business with us, that if they take a NetJets plane, nobody will be able to track them,” Buffett joked.

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