Case | HBS Case Collection | May 2009 (Revised June 2011)

Going to the Oracle: Goldman Sachs, September 2008

by Clayton S. Rose and David Lane

Abstract

On September 23, 2008, in the midst of an historic crisis in the U.S. financial markets, Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway invested $5 billion in Goldman Sachs. Goldman CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, said: "We are pleased that given our longstanding relationship, Warren Buffett, arguably the world's most admired and successful investor, has decided to make such a significant investment in Goldman Sachs." He added that the deal "will further bolster our strong capitalization and liquidity position," calling Buffett's decision "a strong validation of our client franchise and future prospects." For his part, Buffett called Goldman "an exceptional institution" with "…an unrivaled global franchise, a proven and deep management team, and the intellectual and financial capital to continue its track record of outperformance." This case provides an opportunity to evaluate Goldman's decision to raise capital, the cost to the firm of Buffett's investment, and the decision by Warren Buffett to make the investment, all in the context of a profound market crisis that may have altered the usual metrics for such decisions.

Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Financial Crisis; Capital Structure; Financial Liquidity; Financial Markets; Investment; Performance Capacity; Financial Services Industry; United States;

Citation:

Rose, Clayton S., and David Lane. "Going to the Oracle: Goldman Sachs, September 2008." Harvard Business School Case 309-069, May 2009. (Revised June 2011.)