Billionaire Buffett buys major stake in Pilot Flying J

CNBC is reporting the conglomerate will acquire almost 40 percent of the Tennessee-based truck stop operator.

Pilot Flying J is now the largest operator of travel centers across North America, with locations along major highways and smaller transit routes alike.

In 2023, Berkshire Hathaway will buy an additional 41.4% equity stake and become majority shareholder, leaving the Haslam family with a 20% stake. Later, in 2023, Berkshire will increase its ownership to 80 percent, with the rest held by the Haslam family, including CEO Jimmy Haslam.

The buy would include the Flying J Travel Center along IL 15 in Alorton.

Jimmy Haslam said in an interview with CNBC Tuesday that the deal with Buffett is a fit because Berkshire is a "long-term investor" and "hands off". "[He] has a smart growth strategy in place and we look forward to a partnership that supports the trucking industry for years to come".

This story is developing.

"Pilot Flying J is built on a longstanding tradition of excellence and an unrivaled commitment to serving North America's drivers", Mr. Buffett, 87, said in a statement.

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Haslam's father James, the company's founder and chairman, added that he was pleased Berkshire will keep the company's headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee.

"Given the impeccable reputation of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, and our shared vision and values, we decided this was an ideal opportunity", said Jimmy Haslam, CEO of Pilot Flying J. In tossing so much money into Pilot Flying J, the 86-year-old business titan is making a bet that there will continue to be money to be spent and made on America's much-mythologized highways.

The chain now has more than 27,000 employees and 750 locations.

This is why it makes sense for Pilot Flying J to have the financial backing of Berkshire amid the competitive pressure.

The company employs over 27,000 people and is the 15th largest private company in the U.S. The company does annual sales of around $19.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc operates as a holding company. Haslam's brother, Bill, also a billionaire who used to be the company's president, is not governor of Tennessee.

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