Warren Buffett's new stake in truck stops adds another layer to his big bet on the US economy

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway purchased a stake in Pilot Travel Centers, which owns the Pilot Flying J chain of truck stops.

The billionaire investor's conglomerate said it will acquire 38.6% of Pilot Flying J, and plans to become its biggest shareholder over six years, it said in a release on Tuesday.

The stake adds to Berkshire Hathaway's bet on the U.S. economy. Buffett already owns stakes in U.S. airlines and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., one of America's largest railroads, which would also benefit from an increase in trade and economic activity. 

"Whenever I hear people talk pessimistically about this country, I think they're out of their mind," Buffett said at an event last month

Warren Buffett through the years

19 PHOTOS
Warren Buffett through the years
See Gallery
Warren Buffett through the years
Investor Warren Buffett answers reporters' questions during a press conference to announce that Walt Disney will buy Capital Cities/ABC July 31.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett of Omaha makes a rare public appearance during an autograph session outside Borsheim's Jewelry Store in Omaha, May 4. Buffett was signing autographs for shareholders in his company, Berkshire Hathaway, which is having its annual meeting May 5.
Billionaire businessman Warren Buffett sits with his wife Susan (R) and daughter Susie, prior to the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, May 5. This marks a rare public appearance for the reclusive Buffett.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican candidate for governor of California in the October 7, 2003 recall election listens as world famous investor, Warren Buffett (L), one of his financial advisors, speaks to reporters after a meeting of Schwarzenegger's Economic Recovery Council in Los Angeles August 20, 2003. REUTERS/Fred Prouser FSP
Billionaire financier Warren Buffett looks on after a meeting with U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington June 29, 2005. Specter is the co-author of a bill seeking to create a $140 billion asbestos compensation fund. REUTERS/Shaun Heasley SH/TC
Billionaire Warren Buffett arrives at the Sun Valley Resort in Sun Valley, Idaho July 10, 2007. The world's biggest media chiefs gather this week at the 25th annual Allen & Co. conference at the resort starting today. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES)
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, speaks at a Senate Finance Committee hearing about "Federal Estate Tax: Uncertainty in Planning Under the Current Law" on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 14, 2007. Billionaire Buffett warned of widening U.S. income disparity and endorsed the estate tax as a check on wealth accumulation, while two senior lawmakers said they want the tax repealed. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES)
Billionaire financier and Berkshire Hathaway Chief Executive Warren Buffett greets shareholders during the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska May 3, 2008. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (UNITED STATES)
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett laughs as he appears with Microsoft Corporation founder Bill Gates for a town hall style meeting with business students broadcast by financial television network CNBC at Columbia University in New York, November 12, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES BUSINESS)
Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett kisses his ukulele at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha May 1, 2010. Buffett played "I've Been Working on the Railroad." REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS TRANSPORT)
Billionaire financier and Berkshire Hathaway Chief Executive Warren Buffett (L) and Microsoft founder Bill Gates gesture at the national launch ceremony for the BYD M6 vehicle in Beijing September 29, 2010. Chinese battery and car maker BYD, backed by Buffett, launched its first premium multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) in Beijing on Wednesday to tap rising demand in the world's biggest auto market. REUTERS/Jason Lee (CHINA - Tags: TRANSPORT BUSINESS)
Billionaire Warren Buffett, wearing a traditional tikka or a red mark on the forehead, speaks during a news conference in Bangalore March 22, 2011. Buffett on Tuesday said he is looking to invest in large countries like India, China and Brazil, but added that restrictions on foreign ownership in India's insurance industry could be a deterrent. Buffett also said and the U.S. economy was improving and that the devastating earthquake in Japan would not hurt global growth. REUTERS/Stringer (INDIA - Tags: BUSINESS)
Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett tours the floor of the New York Stock Exchange September 30, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)
Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett holds his hand over his heart during the singing of the national anthem, at the start of a 5km race sponsored by Brooks Sports Inc., a Berkshire-owned company, in Omaha May 5, 2013, a day after the company's annual meeting. Buffett at the meeting on May 4, 2013 gave the most extensive comments to date about the future of Berkshire Hathaway Inc after he is gone, saying he still expects the conglomerate to be a partner of choice for distressed companies. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SPORT ATHLETICS)
Warren Buffett, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, poses for a portrait in New York October 22, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)
Roberta Buffett Elliott sits with her brother Warren Buffett as they attend an announcement ceremony at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, January 28, 2015. The sister of financial investor Warren Buffett has given Northwestern University more than $100 million to create the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies, the largest single gift in the school's 164-year history, the university said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS EDUCATION SOCIETY)
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, speaks at the Fortune's Most Powerful Women's Summit in Washington October 13, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, smiles before speaking with Bill Gates (not pictured), at Columbia University in New York, U.S., January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Pilot Flying J is the largest operator of travel centers in North America, with more than 27,000 employees, 750 locations across the US and Canada, and more than $20 billion in annual revenue.

For the time being, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam's family will remain as the majority shareholder, while Haslam will stay as CEO. Additionally, the Maggelet family will keep 11.3% ownership until 2023, at which point Berkshire will take over the majority stake.

"Pilot Flying J is built on a longstanding tradition of excellence and an unrivaled commitment to serving North America's drivers," Buffett, the chairman, president, and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said in the release. "Jimmy Haslam 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."

BDT & Company advised Pilot Flying J, and as part of the deal, BDT Capital Partners exited its minority investment in it.

"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 in a public statement. "As a family business that has evolved and prospered over the last six decades, we knew that any potential partner would need to share our commitment and have a proven track record as a long-term investor."

It has been a slow year on the acquisition front by Buffett's standards, though he has done some deals, including the extension of a $1.5 billion line of credit to the Canadian lender Home Capital Group. Buffett's firm also sunk $377 million into the real-estate investment trust Store Capital. In June, Berkshire became Bank of America's biggest shareholder after exercising warrants to buy 700 million common shares.

Buffett has run into a few roadblocks this year, getting outbid for the energy company Oncor in August. In February, the Buffett-backed conglomerate Kraft Heinz called off plans to merge with Unilever, a deal valued at $143 billion.

More from Business Insider:
Traders betting against Tesla are finally making millions
Warren Buffett lives in a modest house that's worth .001% of his total wealth — here's what it looks like
The retail apocalypse is torpedoing Nordstrom's attempt to go private — and the whole industry is paying for it

 

Read Full Story

Can't get enough business news?

Sign up for Finance Report by AOL and get everything from retailer news to the latest IPOs delivered directly to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.