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Warren Buffett attacked derivatives as "financial weapons of mass destruction." So why has he just done one of the biggest derivatives deals ever?

By Jonathan Ford   December 2008

City gent caught out (again)

It has been another bad bubble for Chris Gent, the well-known businessman who used to run the world’s biggest mobile phone company, Vodafone. In 1999, at the height of the last investment mania—the so-called telecom, media and technology boom—Gent did what was in corporate terms the equivalent of buying a Semper Augustus tulip bulb in the late autumn of 1636. Under his direction, Vodafone paid £112bn for a German mobile phone company, Mannesmann. Despite doubling in size and becoming—in the modern parlance—too big to fail, Vodafone’s share price has never recovered from this act of…

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