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Buffett "will not buy family firm this week"

Warren Buffett announced he would not be completing a deal to acquire a European family business this week as he tours the continent to raise the profile of his Berkshire Hathaway investment house.

However, he said he was hoping for the phone to ring or a fax to come through with a deal that he would be interested in. He made the comments as he prepared to meet family business owners at IMD business school in Lausanne, Switzerland, on the second day of his whirlwind tour of Europe.

"I meet two companies per year [in which I want to invest] if I'm lucky," said Buffett. "I only buy when the owners are ready to sell. I don't pester anyone." The 77-year-old investor is believed to be looking to acquire a European family-owned business to diversify his holdings.

Yesterday he spent the day in Frankfurt, where it is rumoured he met with several families, including BMW's Quandt family. Over the next two days he will be visiting Spain and Italy, home of Angelo Moratti, of family-owned energy company Saras, who has helped to organise this trip.

Buffett was joined at IMD by Eitan Wertheimer, chairman of family-owned Israeli cutting-tool company Iscar, in which he took an 80% stake in 2006. "We are surprised how much better than expected the company is doing [with Warren Buffett on board]," revealed Wertheimer.

It now remains to be seen whether other families follow suit in the coming weeks and months.

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