Shares in Countrywide Financial, the largest of the US mortgage lenders affected by the sub-prime crisis and credit crunch, rose yesterday on speculation that investment legend Warren Buffett may be ready to buy the company's stock.

Buffett, who has invested in financial services groups exposed to the US mortgage market, is said to be attracted by Countrywide’s debtservicing business and its portfolio of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities.

Last week Buffett said the deteriorating credit and housing markets could offer ‘real’ opportunities for investors.