Buffett's Berkshire Buying Oriental Trading Company

By: Jim Siedlecki, Jeff Sabin Email
By: Jim Siedlecki, Jeff Sabin Email

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway announced Friday it has agreed to buy another Omaha-based business, the Oriental Trading Company.

Berkshire is paying $500 million for the OTC, the nation’s largest direct retailer of value-priced party supplies, arts and crafts, school supplies, toys and novelties. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of November.

The Oriental Trading Company made about $70 million in earnings over the past 12 months. The OTC, which has been in business for more than 80 years, was purchased out of bankruptcy 18 months ago.

The purchase will add to an already long list of local and national businesses in and around Omaha owned by Buffett's company. You don't have to drive very far in Omaha and Sarpy County to come across a business or a brand owned by Warren Buffett.

Nebraska Furniture Mart is probably one of the most well-known local Berkshire holdings. Borsheims is another place that probably comes to mind. It's also a popular stop for Berkshire Hathaway stockholders during their annual meeting in the spring.

Sit down to enjoy a Blizzard at Dairy Queen, take a look at the Omaha World-Herald while wearing a Fruit of the Loom T-shirt with a ring from Borsheims; well you get the idea. While driving around town in your car, which may be insured by Geico, you might also come across a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train. If you're looking to spruce up the house a little bit, Benjamin Moore paint and a little Johns Manville insulation could do the trick.

Most people around Omaha and the country are familiar with Warren Buffett, even though we may not realize all the things he has in his portfolio.

“He's the second wealthiest man in the world,” said Kevin Skovenski of Buffalo, New York. “I wouldn't mind his capital.”

“I don't think of him as owning them, he has all these shareholders,” said Marge Williams of Bellevue. “I'm proud that he's from Omaha.

Now the Oriental Trading Company is joining the Berkshire Hathaway family, so maybe some novelty toys and party favors will be a new perk for shareholders at next year's meeting.

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