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Industryweek 9241 Warren Buffett

Berkshire Hathaway to Buy Precision Castparts for $37 Billion

Aug. 10, 2015
It is the largest acquisition in the Warren Buffett-led conglomerate's 50-year history.

NEW YORK—Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has agreed to buy Precision Castparts (IW500/116), a leading supplier to the aerospace industry, for $37.2 billion, in the largest acquisition in the conglomerate's 50-year history.

Berkshire Hathaway will pay $235 per share in cash for all of PCC's outstanding shares, a 21% premium on PCC's closing price of $193.88 Friday, the companies said in a joint statement Monday.

Including Precision's debt, the deal is valued at about $37.2 billion, eclipsing Berkshire's 2010 acquisition of rail operator Burlington Northern Santa Fe in a cash-and-debt deal valued at $36.5 billion.  

Precision Castparts will keep its name and its headquarters in Portland, Oregon, as a wholly owned subsidiary of Buffett's holding company, which currently owns about 3% of its stock.

The deal is subject to approval by PCC holders of the outstanding shares and by regulators, and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2016. 

"I've admired PCC's operation for a long time. For good reasons, it is the supplier of choice for the world's aerospace industry, one of the largest sources of American exports," Buffett, Berkshire's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

Precision Castparts manufactures complex metal components and products for the aerospace industry, including aircraft makers Boeing and Airbus, and also products for chemical processing and the oil and gas industry.

It had more than $10 billion in revenue in its fiscal 2015 year that ended in March, with net profit of $1.53 billion.

No 'Elephant' in Sights 

Buffett suggested the deal would be Berkshire's biggest for at least a year, although smaller deals were likely in the next six months.

"This takes us out of the market for an elephant," Buffett said in an interview on CNBC television. 

"We'll be left with over $40 billion probably of cash when we get all through (with PCC)," he said. "But I like to have a lot of cash at all times. This means we have to reload over the next 12 months or so."

Berkshire ended its fiscal second quarter on June 30 with $66.6 billion in cash.

Precision's businesses in energy-production equipment were also a lure, Buffett said, amid a 50% drop in oil prices since mid-2014.

"When you get a chance to buy a wonderful company, there is usually some reason why you are getting that chance, and perhaps a slump in oil and gas helps us in this case," Buffett told CNBC.

Shares of PCC soared 19.1% to $230.88 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Berkshire "A" shares, the priciest on US markets, fell almost 1% to $213,400.00. Berkshire "B" shares were down 0.7% at $142.52.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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