Buffett's Berkshire Gets Green Light to Buy Railroad

Buffett is investing about $26.3 billion for the new stake in Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway said on Feb. 11 that Burlington Northern Santa Fe shareholders have cleared the track for its takeover of one of the largest rail operators in North America.

Preliminary results showed that approximately 70% of BNSF shares were voted in favor of the transaction, above the 66-2/3% required.

"Tomorrow begins the first century of ownership of BNSF by Berkshire Hathaway. I'm looking forward to every day of it as our railroad does its part to ensure the future prosperity of the country," said Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway CEO.

Buffett had announced "an all-in wager on the economic future of the United States" when Berkshire Hathaway said three months ago it would purchase the 77.4% of BNSF that it did not currently own for $100 per share in cash and stock.

The offer valued the rail operator at $44 billion, including $10 billion in debt. The November 3 takeover bid represented a 31% premium over BNSF's closing share price.

Buffett, known in financial circles as the "Oracle of Omaha" for his investing acumen, is investing about $26.3 billion for the new stake.

BNSF Railway Company operates 32,000 route miles in 28 states and two Canadian provinces.

The merger is expected to close on Feb. 12.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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