Wednesday, November 4, 2009

BNSF and Bershire Hathaway

Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway investment company is investing and making what he describes as an "all-in wager" on the U.S. economy — $34 billion to own Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the second-largest railroad in the U.S.

"Most important of all, however, it's an all-in wager on the economic future of the United States. I love these bets," he told reporters in a newscast this week.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owns 22 percent stake of Burlington Northern and the $34 billion investment would enable his firm to own the balance of BNSF. The transaction requires approval from Burlington shareholders and antitrust regulators in 2010.

Burlington Northern is the largest hauler of corn and coal for electricity, making it an indicator of the United States’ economic health.

An estimated 700 BNSF workers are based in Vancouver, with some 700 rail cars moving daily through Vancouver’s rail yards. In the Northwest BNSF owns 1,600 miles of track in Washington and employs 3,000 workers, with a statewide payroll of $189 million. It has operated in the region since 1873. A spokesperson stated this week that the acquisition would not impact its operations in the Northwest region.