Walter Scott, Buffett’s Buddy and Enterprise Accomplice, Dies at 90



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(Bloomberg) — Walter Scott Jr., the Omaha businessman and philanthropist who made a fortune teaming up together with his good friend Warren Buffett to purchase electrical utilities, has died. He was 90.

The Suzanne and Walter Scott Basis introduced Scott died Saturday, with out disclosing a reason for dying. 

“It’s with nice disappointment that we acknowledge the passing of our founder, Walter Scott, Jr,” in accordance with an announcement on the Basis’s web site. “We’re blessed to have identified and realized from Walter as we proceed his philanthropic legacy.”


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Whereas Buffett put Omaha on the map for traders, Scott was in some ways town’s main patron. He parlayed the cash he made within the building, telecommunications and vitality industries into civic facilities, together with the zoo and the native campus of the College of Nebraska, which was named after him.

“It’s important to give one thing again to your neighborhood that can permit individuals sooner or later a greater schooling, a greater alternative, a greater begin in life,” Scott stated in a 1997 interview for the Horatio Alger Affiliation of Distinguished People. “Wherever we’re immediately as a society is constructed upon the previous experiences of individuals and what they did to create a greater world.”

Scott had a internet price of greater than $6 billion, in accordance with the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. 


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Walter Scott Jr. was born Could 21, 1931, in Omaha, quickly after the beginning of the Nice Melancholy. Rising up, he labored on farms and ranches in the course of the summers. Later, to save lots of for faculty, he took a job as a gofer for Peter Kiewit Sons’ Co., a building agency, fetching provides and meals for the staff.

He continued to work there whereas he pursued a civil engineering diploma at Colorado State College and, after graduating in 1953, joined full-time. After a short stint within the U.S. Air Drive in the course of the Korean Conflict, Scott returned to Kiewit.

The timing was fortuitous. The U.S. was in midst of a building growth. Kiewit received contracts to assist construct swaths of the nation’s freeway system, dams and different public works. Scott moved his household across the nation to work at undertaking websites, steadily climbing the ranks of the intently held firm. In 1979, he was named CEO.


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Throughout the next a long time, Scott helped plow a few of Kiewit’s money into quite a lot of different companies, from coal mines to toll roads. In the end, the agency started to focus these different investments on the telecommunications trade. In 1998, Scott spun off lots of Kiewit’s non-construction companies into an organization known as Degree 3 Communications Inc., which operated a fiber-optic community that served as a spine for the web.

It was the form of concept that captured traders’ imaginations within the late Nineties bull market — a wedding of Kiewit’s building ability and the huge alternatives of the Data Age. After going public, Degree 3 briefly attained a valuation of greater than $40 billion. However in the course of the dot-com bust in 2000, the shares tanked. They by no means totally recovered, partly as a result of different corporations had constructed competing networks and there was a glut of bandwidth.


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Scott caught with Degree 3 because it posted years of losses, lastly stepping down as chairman in 2014. Two years later, CenturyLink Inc. agreed to purchase the corporate, drawing to a detailed a uncommon chapter of Scott’s enterprise profession that misplaced traders’ cash.

His expertise with utilities went much more easily. In 1999, Scott approached Buffett about investing in MidAmerican Power, a sleepy electrical utility in Des Moines. The 2 businessmen had identified each other since they have been youngsters; the headquarters for Buffett’s conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., was in Kiewit Plaza, an workplace constructing in Omaha; and Scott had served on the board of Buffett’s firm since late Eighties. However the buy of MidAmerican would deepen their ties.


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“From the beginning, the thought of being in partnership with Walter struck me as one,” Buffett wrote in a letter to shareholders in 2000.

Berkshire went on to bankroll a takeover of MidAmerican with Scott, and it will definitely shaped the inspiration of an unlimited vitality empire. With Buffett’s backing, the corporate purchased utilities within the U.S. and Canada, snapped up pure fuel pipelines and invested billions in wind and solar energy. 

Towards the tip of his life, Scott devoted extra time to supporting a variety of instructional causes and Omaha charities. He outlined his ideas on philanthropy in 2010 when he signed the Giving Pledge, an effort by Buffett and Microsoft Corp. co-founder Invoice Gates to get the world’s richest to donate nearly all of their wealth.

Certainly one of his priorities, Scott defined in a letter about his resolution, was to deal with youth.

“I’ve nothing towards outdated individuals. I’m one!” he wrote. “However I imagine society will get essentially the most bang-for-the-buck if I spend money on issues that assist us produce educated and productive residents.”

Scott’s first spouse, Carolyn, died in 1983. His second spouse, the previous Suzanne Marshall, died in 2013.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.


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