May 30, 2024

Even Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, known as the Oracle of Omaha, can’t actually see into the future. And when it came to the conglomerate’s stake in Paramount Global, that cost Berkshire some money.

During a question-and-answer session at Berkshire’s annual shareholder conference on Saturday, Buffett revealed that the company dumped all of its remaining shares of Paramount, the parent company of CBS, MTV, and Paramount Pictures. And it did so at a loss.

As of Dec. 31, Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire held 63 million shares of Paramount valued at $816 million, according to a February Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

“I was 100% responsible for the Paramount decision,” Buffett said. “It was 100% my decision, and we’ve sold it all and we lost quite a bit of money.”

Buffett said Berkshire’s involvement with Paramount made him think deeper about what people do with their leisure time and “what the governing principles are of running an entertainment business of any sort,” from sports to movies.

“I think I’m smarter now than I was a couple years ago, but I also think I’m poorer,” he added. Berkshire first acquired a nonvoting stake of Paramount class B shares in early 2022.

Paramount stock has fallen almost 13% year-to-date, and more than 21% year-over-year. The company has been the target of several potential takeover bids as its business struggles.

On Friday, much-criticized merger talks between Paramount and SkyDance Media, the film production company led by David Ellison, ended after Paramount decided not to extend negotiations. Skydance — the film company behind big-name movies like Top Gun: Maverick and Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One — had proposed to pay more than $2 billion for National Amusements, Paramount’s parent company, and to have Ellison lead the newly-formed company.

The end of merger talks with Skydace came just after Sony Pictures and Apollo Global Management made a $26 billion all-cash offer to buy Paramount.

In another shakeup last Monday, Paramount CEO Bob Bakish announced that he would step down from the role.

More from Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting

Warren Buffett on Berkshire Hathaway selling Apple stock, AI, and life after Charlie Munger

Berkshire Hathaway sold a lot of Apple stock — but Warren Buffett isn’t giving up on it

Warren Buffett sees AI as a modern-day atomic bomb

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