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Buffett to sing for Chinese New Year

January 8, 2012

Warren Buffett, widely revered in China for his investment savvy, will sing and play guitar to celebrate China’s upcoming Lunar New Year in a specially recorded performance to be aired online by state television.

CNTV, the internet TV arm of CCTV, the state broadcaster, said the 81-year-old Mr Buffett had recorded a video for a special “Spring Festival” gala performance to be aired online.

“We all know that Buffett is good at investment, but few knew he also did well in singing,” Wang Pingjiu, a production executive for the broadcast, told a press conference on Thursday, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. Mr Wang did not disclose Mr Buffett’s song choice.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese annually gather around their television sets for the country’s most famous television programme: the CCTV Spring Festival gala, an extravaganza of song, dance, acrobatics, comedy and drama staged every year on Chinese New Year’s eve, which falls on January 22 this year. Typically, more than three-quarters of Chinese households with televisions tune in to the show.

CCTV last year launched an online version of the gala, to appeal to younger viewers. Xinhua said Mr Buffett’s video would appear in the online gala – along with performances by other celebrities including Jackie Chan, the film star.

China knows Mr Buffett as chief executive ofBerkshire Hathaway, and a high-profile investor inBYD, the Chinese car company that hopes to lead the Chinese electric vehicle industry. His books are bestsellers among Chinese entrepreneurs, some of whom model themselves after the Nebraska investor.

Chinese investors, who saw Shanghai’s benchmark composite index fall 22 per cent last year, will doubtless be hoping for some tips from Mr Buffett’s online lyrics.

“They all want to be like him – and he did it honestly. That is something that Chinese look up to,” says Shaun Rein, author of The End of Cheap China and head of China Market Research in Shanghai. Guo Guangchang, chairman and founder of Fosun, China’s largest private conglomerate, styles himself as China’s Warren Buffett.

Mr Buffett has already made a name for himself in the US as an entertainer by appearing in a video advertisement, widely viewed on the internet, for Geico, the insurance company owned by Berkshire. In it, the investor sings the “Lizard Ballad” in the manner of rock star Axl Rose. Geico is famous for TV ads showing a gecko lizard.

Until now, Mr Buffett has kept his Chinese entertaining to the dinner table: last year he hosted a banquet, along with Bill Gates, for some of China’s richest people in the name of promoting philanthropy in the country. After weeks of speculation about whether the Chinese super-rich would prove too stingy to attend, Mr Buffett said the event was a success.

CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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