It’s good to give, say super-rich

Warren Buffett’s record-breaking donation could make a real difference. How does it feel to write a cheque for US$37 billion, I wonder? With Warren Buffett, the world’s second-richest man, donating over 80% of his fortune to foundations run by his friend Bill Gates and the Buffett family, philanthropy is firmly back on the agenda.

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By  Andrew White Published  June 2, 2006

|~||~||~|Warren Buffett’s record-breaking donation could make a real difference. How does it feel to write a cheque for US$37 billion, I wonder? With Warren Buffett, the world’s second-richest man, donating over 80% of his fortune to foundations run by his friend Bill Gates and the Buffett family, philanthropy is firmly back on the agenda. The move is the largest commitment to a philanthropic cause ever made by one person in the history of the US, and is another remarkable twist in the tale of 75-year Buffett’s rise to the top of the business world. He took over US-based investment firm Berkshire Hathaway in 1965, and has transformed it from a struggling textile maker into a US$142 billion behemoth with investments in undervalued securities, and purchases of well-managed businesses. Its stock investments include blue-chip companies such as Proctor & Gamble Co., and Coca Cola Co., whilst the firm owns over 50 successful businesses including Geico auto insurance, Benjamin Moore Paint, and the ubiquitous Dairy Queen chain that keeps teenagers in ice cream throughout the US. Last week’s announcement does leaves Buffett with a cool US$7 billion to see out his final days. Nevertheless, the message is clear — you can’t take it with you, so why not do the right thing while you can? Buffett wrote in a letter to Gates and his wife, “You have committed yourself to a few extraordinarily important but underfunded issues, a policy that I believe offers the highest probability of your achieving goals of great confidence.” In one respect, he is certainly right. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whilst being one of the world’s richest foundations, is also one of its most pioneering. It has committed millions upon millions of dollars to fighting diseases and injustice around the world, and focuses upon those causes that have previously found themselves underfunded by charities and government handouts. Buffett may be a generous man, but he is not a gambling man. He has shown himself to be an astonishingly astute businessman, and would not throw money – let alone such a vast sum – at any organisation that he felt could not provide results. Let us hope, then, that he is right with regards to the foundation’s chances of success.. After all, US$37 billion is a lot of money to donate to a single organisation, when it might perhaps have been spread far wider.||**||Top of the traders|~||~||~|Dubai trade traffic statistics registered a 36% growth in trade during 2005, boosting the emirate’s position as the trading hub of the entire Middle East. According to the figures, compiled by the Statistics Department of Dubai Ports, Customs and Free Zones, total trade through the emirate surged to US$130.7 billion during the year, as compared to US$95.6 billion in 2004. Total imports increased from US$62.5 billion in 2004 to US$83.8 billion in 2005, while exports jumped from US$17.5 billion to US$25 billion during the same period. At the smae time, re-exports increased from US$15.5 billion in 2004 to US$21.5 billion last year. The huge surge in trade confirms Dubai’s geographical and logistical importance to the Middle East region. Additionally, the rise in exports is a remarkable testament to the UAE’s burgeoning manufacturing sector. The figures also indicate that Dubai has further enhanced its reputation as a major re-export hub, with re-exports recording a 38% year-on-year growth. The key now is to sustain this remarkable growth. Dubai is at the centre of the new Middle East, and must remain there.||**||Back of the net|~||~||~|It appears that Emirates airline will be one of just six sponsors for the next FIFA World Cup in 2010, with each deal worth around US$100 million. There are 15 sponsors for the tournament now playing, worth between US$45 million and US$50 million each. The other main sponsors are likely to be Adidas, Hyundai, Coca-Cola, Sony and Visa. This follows the announcement in April that Emirates had signed a US$195 million deal with FIFA for an eight-year partnership, which is the highest level of assocation a company can have with the organisation. This year’s World Cup in Germany has been a feast of football, and will surely have boosted even further the game’s popularity across the globe. In a bad, bad week for BA and a few others, Emirates must be grinning from ear to ear. Result!||**||

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