Energy firms find succour

US energy company debt has reached critical levels, with nervous investors and banks working hard to keep these companies afloat. But Paul Lyon finds the secretive hedge fund industry could also lend a helping hand

Where the Sage of Omaha goes, investors usually follow. So when Warren Buffetthelped organise a $900 million loan last July to US energy firm Williams – whichpaid investors, including Buffett’s investment vehicle Berkshire Hathaway,34% in interest and fees – it was only a matter of time until hedge fundsmade similar moves.

And such devotion is hardly surprising, given that Berkshire Hathaway made recordoperating profits of $1.7 billion in the first quarter of 2003, more than twicethat of the

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