Billionaire Buffett invests in love merger

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The Independent Online

Given how long they have been a couple, it can hardly be described as a surprise merger, but the investor Warren Buffett still caused a shock for some when it was announced he had married his long-time companion.

Mr Buffett married Astrid Menks at a private, 15-minute ceremony on Wednesday, which was the investor's 76th birthday. The ceremony took place at the home of his daughter, Susan.

His daughter told the Omaha World-Herald newspaper: "It's her only and his last [wedding]." Asked about possible honeymoon plans, she said: "Warren honeymoons every day in his office."

Mr Buffett's first wife, Susan Thompson Buffett, died two years ago from a stroke. She had moved to San Francisco in 1977, and, though the two remained married and in contact, it was she who reportedly arranged for her husband to meet Ms Menks.

Within a year of their meeting, she had moved into his apartment. In an interview, Mrs Buffett said she approved of the arrangement and described Ms Menks as "a very helpful, giving person". Mrs Buffett and Ms Menks would often sit together at the annual meetings of Berkshire Hathaway, the investment company headed by Mr Buffett, and at other public events.

In his 1995 biography of Mr Buffett, The Making of an American Capitalist, the author Roger Lowenstein wrote of Ms Menks: "The most common description of Astrid was 'survivor'. Witty and street-smart, she was an habitué of antique stores and thrift shops and inevitably managed to look striking even in secondhand threads.

"She had a small frame and a sharply lined face that hinted at her origins. In the winter, she would pick her way through the mounds of snow and swirling Omaha winds, bundled up in an Afghan and a fur coat and leading a reddish dog and looking like a character from Doctor Zhivago."

One thing is certain - Ms Menks is not marrying Mr Buffett for his money.

Earlier this summer, the investor announced he was bequeathing the bulk of his $44bn (£23bn) fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He donated the first 500,000 shares of Class B stock last week.