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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2006, 08:37 GMT 09:37 UK
Buffett puts Tesco in his trolley
Warren Buffett
Mr Buffett wanted to diversify out of the US
US billionaire investor Warren Buffett has invested 174m ($329m) in the UK's leading supermarket, Tesco.

Mr Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway company purchased 57.6 million Tesco shares in March, according to official records.

Mr Buffett, the "sage of Omaha", has become the second-richest man in America through long-term investments.

He recently indicated that he wanted to diversify his investment portfolio by buying more assets outside the US.

Mr Buffett told Berkshire Hathaway shareholders in March that he planned to sell up to $9bn (5bn) in real estate assets to fund his expansion overseas.

The move will be welcomed by Tesco, which has often argued that it is undervalued by the stock market despite making record profits.

Tesco shares rose by 1% to 319.75p on the news, valuing the company at about 24bn.

Sir Terry Leahy
People are not worried about Tesco being dominant
Sir Terry Leahy, Tesco chief executive

Still, the shares have declined 6% since their high in March, as investors have become nervous about the pace of its international expansion and the progress of rivals such as Sainsbury's.

And Tesco - along with other supermarkets - is facing yet another inquiry into its market power. Its chief executive Terry Leahy has insisted it is not "dominant" despite its growing share of the UK market.

Record profits

Tesco posted a big rise in profits and sales in April, with both UK and international sales growing rapidly.

Total sales rose 13% to 41.8bn, while like-for-like sales - which exclude new store openings - at its UK outlets rose 7.5%.

Group profit before tax was 16.7% higher at 2.21bn.

Tesco is busy buying existing and opening new stores across the world

In the UK, the retailer plans to open another 130 Express convenience stores during the current year.

The past year saw substantial international expansion, with non-UK sales now accounting for nearly a quarter of Tesco's total revenues.

The retailer opened 238 new stores overseas last year and plans a further 419 international store openings in the current year.

Overseas growth is being driven by Asia, where Tesco is market leader in Thailand and is expanding in China and South Korea.

But Tesco is still only a quarter the size of Wal-Mart, the US supermarket giant which owns Asda in the UK.

Mr Buffett holds a stake in Wal-Mart, as well as in other well-known US brands like McDonalds, Coca-Cola, and Procter & Gamble.

Hear how Tesco has made record profits

Tesco has bumper 2.25bn profit
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Tesco boss defends firm's growth
26 Feb 06 |  Business
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Warren Buffett: Investment guru
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