News broke earlier this week that almost 60 years after his father purchased a gas station in Virginia for $6,000, Jimmy Haslam has entered an agreement expected to be worth billions to sell a controlling share of Pilot Flying J to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
The Haslam family will retain a 50.1% stake in the company for now, with Buffett’s Berkshire Hathway buying up 38.6% initially. By the end of 2023 however, Buffett is expected to own 80% of the company.
With just of shy of $20 billion in sales each year, Pilot Flying J is the 15th largest private company in the United States. While the exact details of the purchase were not disclosed publicly, the deal is expected to be worth billions of dollars.
Other than a significant bump in their wealth, not a lot is expected to change for Jimmy Haslam or his brother, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. As part of the deal, the management team will remain in place.
“He truly wants us to run the company, wants us to maintain the culture,” Haslam said of Buffett according to a report by Reuters. “It’s just a marriage that we thought made a lot of sense.”
When asked about the now infamous fuel rebate scam that led to an FBI raid of Pilot Flying J headquarters and the arrest of numerous executives including former President Mark Hazelwood, Buffett stated “I know about it, but it’s not going to affect the future of the company,” according to The Tennessean.
“I think our comment has been all along that as long there’s an investigation going on that we would not comment, but this transaction has nothing to do with the government investigation,” added Jimmy Haslam.
Some have questioned why Buffett would be interested in purchasing Pilot Flying J with the looming threat of autonomous and electric vehicles. But according to Forbes, Pilot Flying J is well positioned to add new infrastructure to its truck stops that could serve electric vehicles. Then, when drivers stop to recharge, they’d have up to 45 minutes (on a fast charging battery) to spend money on goods and services.
As for autonomous vehicles, Buffett doesn’t seem to concerned.
“Trucks are going to be around for a very long time. Who knows when driverless trucks are going to come along and what level of penetration they have,” Buffett told Bloomberg News. “There is nothing that we own that doesn’t have something in the future that might affect it.”