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Buffett's Berkshire Buys German Pipe Company Wilhelm Schulz

Jan. 23, 2017
Europe has been a relatively rare hunting ground for Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire.

A unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. agreed to buy Wilhelm Schulz GmbH, a closely held German maker of piping components, as the billionaire accelerates an expansion in Europe.

Rainer Floeth, chief executive officer of Krefeld, Germany-based Wilhelm Schulz, confirmed by phone that Berkshire’s Precision Castparts had agreed to buy the company. He declined to elaborate on terms due to contractual obligations. The deal was first reported by German newspaper Handelsblatt, which cited Precision Castparts Corp. CEO Mark Donegan.

Buffett, 86, bought Precision Castparts for $37 billion a year ago, one of his biggest deals ever, and said the following month he expected Donegan to find more acquisitions. The Portland, Ore.-based company already has a range of manufacturing units, producing metal industrial components for jet engines and power plants, as well as pipes for the oil and gas industry. Wilhelm Schulz was founded as a maker of stainless steel piping accessories in 1945, later expanding internationally.

Europe has been a relatively rare hunting ground for Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire, which Buffett built from a struggling textile maker into a sprawling conglomerate through investments and acquisitions.

The billionaire signaled his interest in changing that in 2008, traveling to the region to highlight Berkshire as a potential buyer of businesses across the continent. And while announcing his roughly $450 million purchase of a German motorcycle apparel and accessories retailer in 2015, he called the deal a “door opener” for the region.

In December, Berkshire’s Marmon Holdings unit bought Zephir SpA, an Italian manufacturer of industrial tractors and vehicles that move train cars in rail yards. Earlier in the year, Marmon also announced acquisitions in Italy of pasta-equipment maker Dominioni Punto & Pasta Srl and catering-equipment firm Angelo Po.

Ian Campbell, a spokesman for Precision Castparts at Abernathy MacGregor, had no immediate comment. Buffett didn’t respond to a message sent to an assistant on Sunday.

By Noah Buhayar and Oliver Sachgau

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