Investor Warren Buffett said his Berkshire Hathaway firm has moved quickly to shed its holdings in railroads other than BNSF Railway, which it plans to buy out for $26 billion.
Before the BNSF deal, announced Nov. 3, Berkshire in August reported holding 9.5 million shares of Union Pacific Railroad, the western-U.S. rival to BNSF, and 1.9 million of eastern carrier Norfolk Southern Railway.
Buffett told PBS television interviewer Charlie Rose, in a broadcast the evening of Nov. 13, “I’ve already sold them . . . I’ve done that just to facilitate the transaction. I think they’re good investments, but I would have held them if this hadn’t happened.”
BNSF employees heard in a Nov. 9 conference call about Berkshire’s pending purchase that Buffett still held blocks of UP and NS. They were told he would be disposing of both of those holdings before the transaction date of the BNSF purchase, which is expected to close in the 2010 first quarter.
However, Buffett’s update just four days later to TV’s Rose clarified that he had moved rapidly out of the other rail investments.
Contact John D. Boyd at email@example.com.