* Says U.S. economy is getting better month by month
* Says hopes to spend some money in India
* Says looking at industries with modest rate of change
* Says Japan crisis will not hurt global growth
* Says Berkshire board would back Ajit Jain as successor
(Adds details, quote on Ajit Jain in paragraph 8,9,10)
By Santosh Nadgir and Sayantani Ghosh
BANGALORE, March 22 Billionaire Warren Buffett
on Tuesday said he is looking to invest in large countries like
India, China and Brazil, but added that restrictions on foreign
ownership in India's insurance industry could act as a deterrent
in the sector.
Speaking to reporters on his maiden visit to India, Buffett
also said the U.S. economy was improving and that the
devastating earthquake in Japan would not hurt global growth.
"India is a very logical place to look so I hope I spend
some money here," Buffett told reporters in the southern Indian
city of Bangalore, adorned in a flower garland and a red "teeka"
-- a dash of vermillion placed on foreheads as a symbol of good
Buffett also said the U.S. economy was improving. "The
American economy is getting better month by month," he said.
"The more India prospers or China prospers, the more the United
States is going to prosper over the long term," he added.
He also said the earthquake in Japan - which has left at
least 21,000 people dead or missing and has triggered the
world's worst nuclear crisis in a quarter of a century -- would
not hurt global growth.
"In terms of its effect on the world economy over any period
of time, it's not going to be that important," he said. "It's
going to be important for Japan, obviously, but it will not stop
the growth of the world economy," he added, a day after he said
the crisis created a "buying opportunity."
Buffett, nicknamed the Oracle of Omaha, a reference to his
prodigious skill in picking out great investments that are
followed closely by investors, and his Omaha, Nebraska origins,
said he was looking at industries with modest rates of change.
The 80-year old investor who is yet to name a successor to
take over his $200-billion empire, skirted questions on the
succession plan but praised Berkshire veteran Ajit Jain for
smoothly running much of the company's insurance business.
"He loves what he does, he's not looking to take my job. If
he was, the board of directors would probably put him in there
in a minute," he said.
Four names top the list of potential candidates to succeed
Warren Buffett as chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway,
including that of India-born Ajit Jain.
INDUSTRIES OF INTEREST
When asked if he would invest in India's $60 billion
information technology industry or in the semiconductor
business, Buffett said he preferred sectors he had expertise in.
"I think about the soft drink industry or the chewing gum
industry, some thing that's much easier for me to understand,"
Berkshire owns a stake in Wrigley since 2008, when it poured
$6.5 billion into Mars Inc's $23 billion acquisition of the
chewing gum maker. And Coca-Cola is one of Berkshire's
Buffett said he liked large countries like India, China,
Brazil, United Kingdom and Germany. "We need to invest billions
of dollars and that's very tough in emerging markets," he said.
"I don't consider India as an emerging market, I consider
India as a very big market. We continue to look at large
countries like India."
Earlier this month, Berkshire Hathaway agreed to
become a corporate agent for India's Bajaj Allianz General
Insurance, marking its entry in to the insurance sector in
Asia's third-largest economy.
Indian rules do not allow foreign firms to own more than 26
percent of an insurance company - a move that is seen by many
overseas firms as restrictive.
The insurance portal, owned entirely by Berkshire, will sell
motor insurance policies for Bajaj Allianz, avoiding the foreign
"It would be more attractive to us if we could buy more than
26 percent," Buffett said. "I would say that for the time being,
and perhaps for some time, our activities in insurance here will
be at the agency level rather than at the underwriting level,"
Buffett was in Bangalore to visit the local arm of TaeguTec,
a unit of Israeli metal-cutting tool maker ISCAR Metalworking,
in which Berkshire has a majority stake. He is also expected to
meet policymakers and company executives.
Ranked the world's third-richest man by Forbes magazine,
Buffett is also using his visit to India to encourage
Visiting South Korea on Monday, Buffett said Berkshire,
which had $38 billion of cash equivalents at the end of 2010,
was looking for more large-scale acquisitions anywhere in the
(Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh and Santosh Nadgir; Writing by
Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Jui Chakravorty)