Buffett Doubles Investment in Dow Chemical Amidst Crisis

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In the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, made a strategic move that not only provided a lifeline to a struggling company but also yielded significant profits for his own company. Buffett invested a crucial $3 billion in Dow Chemical, a move that enabled the chemical giant to complete a pivotal acquisition at a time when the financial world was in turmoil. In return, Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett’s company, received preferred stock with an annual dividend of 8.5%, leading to an estimated profit of $3 billion from stock sales and dividends.

Buffett’s investment in Dow Chemical stands as one of his signature deals, demonstrating his knack for spotting opportunities amidst chaos. Dow, struggling with the financial crisis, had agreed to acquire Rohm and Haas for nearly $19 billion in July 2008. This acquisition was a part of Dow’s strategy to shift its focus from bulk chemicals to higher-margin specialty chemicals. However, the financial turbulence at that time posed a significant challenge. Enter Buffett, with his $3 billion investment, which not only provided much-needed cash to Dow but also underscored his reputation for making lucrative deals during financially troubled times.

Warren Buffett’s $3 Billion Lifeline to Dow Chemical: A Strategic Investment with a Hefty Return

In the throes of the 2008 financial crisis, Warren Buffett, the investment savant, extended a significant $3 billion lifeline to Dow Chemical. This critical financial support enabled the manufacturing giant to finalize an acquisition during a period when investors, lenders, and companies were seeking shelter. This strategic move not only rescued a struggling company but also earned Buffett an estimated $3 billion profit from stock sales and dividends.

A Transformative Acquisition Amid a Financial Meltdown

In July 2008, Dow embarked on a strategic shift, agreeing to acquire Rohm and Haas for nearly $19 billion, including debt. This acquisition was part of Dow’s plan to transition from bulk chemicals to higher-margin, specialty chemicals. To aid with the financing, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stepped in with a $3 billion investment, acquiring 3 million Series A convertible preferred shares, which paid an annual dividend of 8.5% or $255 million.

However, Dow’s timing was unfortunate. Two months later, Lehman Brothers collapsed, leading to a global financial meltdown. Dow’s plan to cover a significant portion of the deal’s cost using proceeds from a joint venture with Kuwait’s Petrochemical Industries fell through, sending Dow’s stock plummeting.

A Resilient Approach to Investment

Despite the collapse in Dow’s stock and its diminished prospects, Buffett stayed the course. "We showed up with $3 billion for something that was worth about $1.8 billion maybe at the time," Buffett noted. His reliability during such trying times made his investments attractive, leading to deals with Goldman Sachs, General Electric, Mars, and Swiss Re between 2008 and 2009.

To fund these deals and preserve Berkshire’s cash reserves, Buffett sold shares of companies like Moody’s, Procter & Gamble, and Johnson & Johnson. His investment in Dow provided the much-needed confidence to Wall Street that Dow could weather the storm.

Profiting from Persistence

Buffett’s persistence paid off handsomely. Dow paid substantial dividends to Berkshire for over seven years. In December 2016, Dow converted Berkshire’s preferred shares into 72.6 million common shares, liberating itself from the expensive commitment.

Not interested in owning Dow’s common stock, Buffett sold all the shares ahead of time, making about a $1 billion profit. Coupled with the $1.8 billion in total dividends from its preferred stock, Buffett made a pre-tax return of approximately $3 billion, roughly double his initial investment.


This strategic play by Buffett underscores the importance of resiliency and strategic foresight in investing. Even amidst a global financial crisis, Buffett recognized the potential in Dow and provided the much-needed financial support. His investment strategy, focusing on long-term gain over short-term hurdles, played a pivotal role in Dow’s survival and reaped substantial profits for Berkshire Hathaway. This serves as a potent reminder that in the realm of investment, patience, strategic thinking, and a bit of daring can yield impressive results.

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