Buffett: Wal-Mart may have made a mistake in Mexico

OMAHA, Nebraska Sat May 5, 2012 11:47pm IST

Warren Buffett sings with University of Nebraska cheerleaders during the Berkshire Hathaway Annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, May 5, 2012. REUTERS/Lane Hickenbottom

Warren Buffett sings with University of Nebraska cheerleaders during the Berkshire Hathaway Annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, May 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Lane Hickenbottom

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OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - Warren Buffett on Saturday told Berkshire Hathaway Inc shareholders that he has not changed his opinion about Wal-Mart Stores Inc or its earnings power, but that the world's largest retailer "may well have made a mistake" in handling a Mexico bribery scandal.

Wal-Mart is one of Berkshire's largest common stock holdings. As of December 31, Berkshire's 39.04 million share stake in the retailer was worth about $2.33 billion.

Last month, the New York Times reported that Wal-Mart de Mexico, which is 69 percent owned by Wal-Mart, in the last decade orchestrated a widespread bribery campaign to win market dominance, and that senior Wal-Mart executives knew about the matter and tried to cover it up.

If the allegations are true, then Wal-mart may have violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids bribes to foreign government officials.

(Reporting By Ben Berkowitz in Omaha; Additional reporting and writing by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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