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Charlie Munger, friend and business partner of Warren Buffett, dies

By Paul R. La Monica and Krystal Hur, CNN

New York (CNN) — Billionaire investor Charlie Munger, the long-time friend and business partner of Warren Buffett, has died. He was 99 years old.

Berkshire Hathaway, the investment firm where Munger served as vice chairman, said in a press release that Munger passed “peacefully” on Tuesday morning in a California hospital. No cause of death was given.

Charles Thomas Munger, known by his nickname, “Charlie,” was born on January 1, 1924, in Omaha, Nebraska. Munger served in the US Army during World War II after leaving the University of Michigan in 1943 at the age of 19. Following the war, Munger attended Harvard Law School and graduated with honors in 1948 and moved to Southern California, where he practiced real estate law.

Wall Street mourned Munger’s passing and his astonishing run at Berkshire Hathaway.

“Berkshire Hathaway could not have been built to its present status without Charlie’s inspiration, wisdom and participation,” CEO Warren Buffett said in the release.

“For so many decades, the two of them led an investment powerhouse that significantly improved so many people’s lives … and, in the process, they repeatedly showcased the prowess of collaboration, synergies, and common sense. May you RIP, Charlie,” said Mohamed El-Erian, Allianz chief economic adviser, in a post on X.

“His impact went far beyond the investing world. People discovered him, thinking that they would learn about ways to make money, but they got so much more,” Whitney Tilson, an investor and expert on both Buffett and Munger, told CNN. “He said if all you have is a hammer, the world looks like a nail.”

Munger, who was worth $2.7 billion, according to Forbes, was still commenting on global markets as recently as a few weeks ago. He told the Acquired podcast, for example, that Buffett’s decision to invest billions of dollars into Japan was “a no-brainer.”

“It was awfully easy money,” said Munger, with his characteristic pithiness. “It was like having God just opening a chest and just pouring money into it.”

Buffett’s right-hand man

Munger met Buffett in 1959 at a dinner when Munger was in Omaha for his father’s funeral. Munger and Buffett struck up a fast friendship.

Buffett told CNBC in 2021 that after their first meeting, he knew “I’m not going to find another guy like this …. We just hit it off.”

Munger officially joined Berkshire Hathaway as a vice chairman in 1978, and for most of his career there was best known as the wise-cracking lieutenant to Buffett, prone to deliver blunt advice about the stock market and economy.

He was known for his pithy zingers that delighted devout Berkshire fans. “If people weren’t so often wrong, we wouldn’t be so rich,” Munger said during a 2015 Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting.

But toward the end of his life, Munger was often in the headlines due to controversies. Munger often spoke highly of China’s communist government, which Western governments have criticized for human rights violations. He praised the country despite its crackdown on Chinese tech giant Alibaba, which was a top Munger investment at Daily Journal, a Los Angeles-based newspaper publisher and investment firm Munger headed from 1977 through 2022.

CNN has reached out to Berkshire Hathaway for comment.

— CNN’s Nicole Goodkind contributed to this report.

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