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Berkshire's Todd Combs Aided Buffett in Showdown Over USG Transaction

Katherine Chiglinsky
Warren Buffett Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Warren Buffett’s investing deputy, Todd Combs, helped the billionaire investor in his effort to exit Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s stake in USG Corp.

Combs and Buffett held a call with Knauf, which was bidding for USG, and its bankers in March to propose an option for Knauf to acquire Berkshire’s stake in USG, according to a regulatory filing Friday. Berkshire later disclosed that Knauf option publicly, bringing to light a deal that would eventually result in a rare instance of Berkshire opposing USG management and a $7 billion bid from Knauf to buy the wallboard maker.

Combs’s role in the deal highlights his emergence as a top deputy for Buffett. Combs was selected for an investment role at Berkshire in 2010 and was later joined by Ted Weschler. The pair now oversee $25 billion, according to Berkshire’s annual letter released this year. Combs has increasingly been in the public spotlight with his appointment to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s board in 2016 and his recent role helping to craft Berkshire’s health-care venture with JPMorgan and Amazon.com Inc.

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