Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said today it plans to buy a majority stake by 2023 of Pilot Flying J, the nation's biggest operator of truck stops and travel stations owned by the family of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, R-Tenn.
Buffett's investment firm will initially buy a 38.6 percent share in the Knoxville-based Pilot Travel Centers LLC and will buy another 41.4 percent over the next five years.
"Pilot Flying J is built on a longstanding tradition of excellence and an unrivaled commitment to serving North America's drivers," said Warren Buffett, chairman, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. "Jimmy Haslam (Bill Haslam's brother and Pilot's CEO) and his team have created an industry leader and a key enabler of the nation's economy. The company has a smart growth strategy in place and we look forward to a partnership that supports the trucking industry for years to come."
For now, the Haslam family will continue to own a majority of Pilot Flying J and Jimmy Haslam will remain as chief executive officer. Pilot Flying J President Ken Parent and the company's management team will also remain in place and Pilot Flying J will continue to be headquartered in Knoxville
"Given the impeccable reputation of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, and our shared vision and values, we decided this was an ideal opportunity," Haslam said.
The Haslam family will continue to hold a majority interest with 50.1 percent ownership in the company for the next six years and FJ Management, Inc., owned by the Maggelet family, will retain 11.3 percent ownership until 2023. In 2023, Berkshire will become the majority shareholder by acquiring an additional 41.4 percent equity stake and the Haslam family will retain 20 percent ownership in the Company and remain involved with Pilot Flying J.
Pilot Flying J is the largest operator of travel centers in North America, with more than 27,000 team members, 750 locations across the U.S. and Canada, and more than $20 billion in revenues. The investment will expand Pilot Flying J's opportunities for growth, as the Company remains committed to delivering outstanding service for the trucking industry, professional drivers, local communities and interstate travelers across North America.
The company was founded by James Haslam II, the billionaire father of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.
"Berkshire Hathaway's investment in Pilot Flying J is a testament to our exceptional team members and their dedication that has made Pilot Flying J the great company it is today," the elder Haslam said in a statement today."Berkshire Hathaway's commitment to keep Pilot Flying J in Knoxville was most important to us. The Knoxville community is an integral part of our company and our family. We are committed to continuing to make a difference in Tennessee, supporting and giving back to our communities here at home."