Buffett not confident of major deal by year-end

Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:40pm EDT

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett attends the Allen & Co Media Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho July 12, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett attends the Allen & Co Media Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho July 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Urquhart

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(Reuters) - Berkshire Hathaway would still like to make a major acquisition this year but the prospects for a deal are starting to look less likely, Chief Executive Warren Buffett said on Friday.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV at the Sun Valley media conference, Buffett said Berkshire could possibly do smaller deals this year, like buying more local newspapers, but a large deal was more elusive.

"I'm not confident but I'm sure hoping," Buffett said.

In May, Buffett told shareholders at Berkshire's annual meeting that a purchase of more than $20 billion had just recently fallen through and that if he did not pull off a deal of that size this year then he could look at one greater than $30 billion next year.

Once place where Berkshire is buying is newspapers. Buffett has been on a kick of late, snapping up a number of smaller papers in markets where they still have substantial readership.

His strategy has been to look for news outlets that still have what he calls "primacy" in their communities for ads and information, and he said more deals could come this year.

"It just depends on who calls us," he said, adding that Berkshire was not actively hunting for newspapers to buy.

Buffett also disclosed that Berkshire has increased the portfolios of Ted Weschler and Todd Combs, the two investment managers hired by the company to eventually succeed Buffett on that side of Berkshire's business.

The two men are now running $4 billion each, he said, up from $2.75 billion earlier this year. He declined to say which was buying what, though he did note one has been purchasing shares of oil refiner Phillips 66 of late.

(Reporting By Ben Berkowitz; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Steve Orlofsky)

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