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Warren Buffett: 'We're not going to buy control' of Occidental

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B) won't be buying a controlling interest in Occidental Petroleum (OXY), according to the company's CEO Warren Buffett.

"There's speculation about us buying control," Buffett said at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting on Saturday. "We're not going to buy control. We've got the right management running it. We wouldn't know what to do with it."

Berkshire Hathaway owns 23.6% of the Houston-based oil company, a stake that Berkshire has increased over the past several years. In August of last year, the company received regulatory approval to purchase up to 50% of Occidental common stock, meaning Berkshire could still more than double its current holdings.

Berkshire has warrants for the stock at $59 per share, according to Buffett, and may still buy more of the company in the future.

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"We will not be making any offer for control of Occidental, but we love the shares we have," Buffett added, "and we may or may not own more in the future."

Occidental stock ended the week at $60.69. The stock is down 3.6% in 2023.

The ties between Buffett and Occidental Petroleum go back to April 2019, when Berkshire Hathaway backed Occidental's proposed bid for Anadarko Petroleum with a $10 billion commitment. The deal was pivotal in the company winning its pursuit of Anadarko against Chevron's rival offer.

Buffett's cash infusion gave Berkshire 100,000 preferred shares and the right to buy up to 80 million common shares of the company at $62.50. At the time, Occidental shares were trading just shy of $60.

FILE - In this May 5, 2019, file photo, Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, speaks during a game of bridge following the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, Neb. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway now controls nearly 20% of Occidental Petroleum's stock after picking up another $250 million worth of shares of the oil producer this week. Buffett has been buying stocks aggressively this year as the market fell, including investing more than $51 billion in the first quarter alone. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)
In this May 5, 2019, file photo, Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, speaks during a game of bridge following the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The stock tanked at the onset of the pandemic, however, as oil prices collapsed amid fears about the global economy. But Occidental stock rallied massively last year as oil prices surged, and Berkshire has continued buying.

"They've been pretty disciplined that, if you look at all the data, Berkshire doesn't seem to have a lot of interest in buying the stock above $60 per share," James Shanahan, equity analyst at Edward Jones, told Yahoo Finance.

Shanahan calculated Berkshire's cost basis for Occidental at $54.90.

Two of Berkshire's largest equity bets are oil stocks: Occidental now makes up nearly 4% of Berkshire's portfolio while Chevron Corporation (CVX) represents a 7.8% share.

Buffett's right-hand man Charlie Munger provided overall optimism on oil in the US during Saturday's shareholder meeting.

"There is no oil basin in the United States the compares to the Permian basin in terms of promise," Munger said.

Oil prices have been trading down recently. WTI crude oil (CL=F) and Brent crude (BZ=F) settled the week near $71.30 and $75.29 a barrel, respectively. Brent crude prices are now down more than 30% over the past year.

"The price of oil still is incredibly important in terms of the economics of short-lived oil," Buffett said.

More Yahoo Finance coverage of Berkshire Hathaway's 2023 annual meeting:

Yahoo Finance reporter Ines Ferre contributed to this report.

Josh is a reporter for Yahoo Finance.

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