Business

Warren Buffett buys German motorcycle apparel firm

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. agreed to buy Detlev Louis Motorradvertriebs GmbH, a motorcycle apparel and accessories retailer in Germany, as the company expands in Europe.

Ute Louis, the widow of founder Detlev Louis, sold the Hamburg-based company to a subsidiary of Berkshire, according to an e-mailed statement Friday from law firm Beiten Burkhardt, which advised on the sale alongside Kupferberg Transactions. The retailer approached Berkshire about selling and both sides agreed not to disclose the price, according to the statement.

“We’re probably going to buy a small business in Europe,” Buffett said in an interview on the Fox Business Network earlier this month. “But I’d love to buy big ones.”

Buffett, 84, has built Berkshire over more than four decades by buying companies and investing in stocks. While the Omaha-based company has mainly purchased U.S. firms, Berkshire acquired Israel’s IMC International Metalworking Cos. starting in 2006.

Buffett didn’t immediately return a request for comment sent to an assistant. The Financial Times reported the transaction earlier Friday and said Berkshire is paying about $452 million.

“For Berkshire Hathaway, this is the first direct investment in a mid-sized company in Europe,” the law firm said in the statement. “The acquisition is tied to the long-term management of the enterprise under the company name Louis,” which they said would provide continuity for employees.

Louis has annual sales of about 270 million euros and employs more than 1,500 people in Germany and Austria, according to the statement from Beiten Burkhardt. The retailer also offers its goods online and via a catalog.

It’s not the first time Berkshire has bet on motorcycles. In 2009, Buffett agreed to buy $300 million of debt from Harley- Davidson Inc. to help prop up the motorcycle maker.

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