S'pore man wins bid for lunch with Warren Buffett

SINGAPORE - A man from Singapore has apparently paid about US$2.2 million (S$2.71 million) in an annual auction to win a private lunch with American investment magnate Warren Buffett, the world's third-richest man.

A spokesman for the United-States-based Glide Foundation, which helps the poor and homeless in San Francisco and will receive the money, announced that "Mr Andy Chua from Singapore" had won the auction, but said he was not interested in holding interviews right now.

The spokesman also did not provide any more details about Mr Chua, and could not be reached by press-time.

Mr Chua's bid was more than double last year's successful US$1 million bid by an anonymous bidder, and capped 121 bids by 12 people during the contest hosted on auction site eBay.

Mr Chua's identity remains a mystery, with only CNBC news providing an additional sliver of information that he was "Mr Andy Chua from EMES in Singapore".

The Sunday Times' checks with Singapore's Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) turned up only two companies with names similar to EMES.

One was EMES Info Tek in Little India, which develops "software and programming activities". The other was EMESCO (S.E.A.) in Shenton Way, which provides business and management consultancy services but was listed as "struck off" in the Acra records. Neither had a Mr Andy Chua listed in the company information.

Searches on social media websites like Facebook and professional networking websites like LinkedIn yielded too many hits, most of whom did not seem likely to be the winner.

When contacted, one Mr Andy Chua, who is head of the Merrill Lynch bank's Asia Pacific Financial Advisory Center, said he was not the mysterious bidder.

Netizens' efforts on local forums also failed to shed any light on the winner.

Over the years, the auction has raised nearly US$16 million for the Glide Foundation. The record bid was about US$3.5 million in 2012 by an anonymous winner.

Mr Chua can invite seven guests to meet Mr Buffett, who is chief executive of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, for lunch at New York's Smith & Wollensky restaurant, at a mutually agreed upon date.

A shrimp cocktail at the restaurant costs about US$20, and a long bone rib-eye steak, close to US$70.

This article was first published on June 8, 2014.
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