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November 11, 2009

Buffett, Gates Join Students in Conversation

Catherine New
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They are two icons of American business — Warren Buffett, MS ’51, and Bill Gates. On November 12, Columbia Business School students will have the opportunity to connect with them in person. They will appear together in a special hour-long community forum at Columbia Business School, which will be filmed by CNBC for global broadcast. During the event, Buffett and Gates will field questions from students about the economy, the future of capitalism and corporate social responsibility.

It is the first time Buffett and Gates, who met each other in 1991, have appeared together at Columbia University. The last student forum they participated in was in 2005 at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Of the many bonds in their friendship, philanthropy and a shared philosophy of giving back to society is one of the strongest. In 2006, their relationship made the history books when Buffett announced that he would give the bulk of his estimated $40 billion fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates and Buffett’s latest ventures have been in recent headlines. Last week, Berkshire Hathaway announced a $26 billion deal for the railway company, Burlington Northern Santa Fe. Earlier in this year, Berkshire invested in BYD, a Chinese electric car company.

In a speech in October, Gates called for a new green revolution in agriculture and announced a $120 million package of agriculture-related grants to nine institutions around the world. Taking a page from Berkshire’s playbook, Gates wrote the foundation’s first annual letter this year and said the foundation will give away $3.8 billion in 2009.

CNBC will broadcast “Warren Buffett and Bill Gates: Keeping America Great” moderated by CNBC’s Becky Quick on November 12 at 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET . Join the conversation with other students on Facebook and on Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Columbia Business School