Warren Buffett sensed value in Japan’s legacy conglomerates that others don’t. Photo: AFP/Johannes Eisele

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has acquired 5% stakes in five leading Japanese trading companies, it said in a statement on Monday.

The stakes are valued at more than $6 billion according to Bloomberg News, and were acquired over approximately a year through regular purchases on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Berkshire said.

The stakes are in Itochu Corp, Marubeni Corp, Mitsubishi Corp, Mitsui & Co and Sumitomo Corp, and Berkshire said it plans to “hold its Japanese investments for the long term.”

Berkshire said it could increase its holdings up to 9.9% in any of the five firms, but added it would not exceed that cap “unless given specific approval by the investee’s board of directors.”

Berkshire Hathaway is the holding company of Buffett, who is considered one of the world’s savviest investors and has amassed a $72-billion fortune – the world’s fourth-largest, according to Forbes magazine.

But even he has suffered setbacks during the pandemic, particularly on investments in the airline industry.

In the statement, Buffett said he was “delighted” to participate in the Japanese firms and he hoped there would be “opportunities of mutual benefit.”

News of the purchases sent stock in all five firms soaring, with Marubeni Corp up 10.18% to 643.7 yen, Sumitomo Corp up 9% to 1,373.5 yen, Mitsubishi Corp up 8.72& to 2.536 yen, Mitsui & Co up 6.47% to 1,898.5 yen and Itochu Corp up 4.49% to 2,731.5 yen.

The Nikkei as a whole was higher, up 1.2% at the open on Monday.