Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Lovejoy Realty Rebrands to Reflect Growing Presence in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Lovejoy Realty has changed its name to better reflect its growing regional presence in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.

The brokerage will now operate as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices North Properties with aspirations to serve all of Minnesota and fortify its presence in Wisconsin.

“Our brokerage has come a long way since its start in 1991,” said Peggy Lovejoy, company founder and president. “With our sights set on growth and the ability to serve more clients throughout our region, it became time to change our local-styled name for one with greater regional flexibility and appeal.”

North Properties, a full-service real estate company, operates 12 offices with more than 130 agents.

Lovejoy said one of her brokerage’s strengths is its continuity. Several of her sales professionals have been with the brokerage since it opened.

“Our agents are smart, loyal, hard-working and genuinely concerned about their clients’ best interests,” she explained. “I love our agents and I’m proud they represent North Properties.”

With nearly 40 years in real estate, Lovejoy hasn’t slowed and is eager to drive growth at the brokerage. “What I enjoy most about the business is helping our agents achieve more than they would in my absence,” she said. “We’ve created a culture of learning and professional development at the company. The upshot is our agents are always growing and investing in their careers. It’s why clients may expect premier service from our brokerage.”

Lovejoy said her team is actively recruiting to help the brokerage expand its reach in the marketplace.

“We’re looking for more of our region’s top sales professionals,” she said. “Agents who want to take their careers to new heights should look no further than Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices North Properties.”

Gino Blefari, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, applauded the name change. “Peggy Lovejoy and her team are well-respected in their markets,” Blefari said. “We look forward to supporting North Properties as it grows and prospers in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.”

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Adds Florida Keys Realtor

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices has announced that independent brokerage Freewheeler Realty has joined its network operating as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Freewheeler Realty.

Freewheeler Realty is a full-service real estate brokerage serving the Upper Florida Keys. The brokerage stands among market leaders in the region.

The full-service brokerage, Islamorada’s oldest operating under the same management, remains independently owned by real estate veteran Alexa Wheeler. It unites with one of America’s fastest-growing real estate brokerage networks, which counts more than 48,000 agents and 1,400 offices in only five years as a brand.

“We reached a jumping off point as an independent company wanting to grow,” said Wheeler. “As a member of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices we gain access to a strong and respected brand whose namesake is one of the world’s most trusted and respected corporations. We also receive the latest tools and resources to help our agents serve their clients. Joining the brand was an obvious choice for us.”

Gino Blefari, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, welcomed Freewheeler Realty. “Freewheeler Realty stands among market leaders in the Upper Florida Keys,” he said. “Alexa and her team of seasoned agents are well regarded for their conscientious service and ethical business standards. We’re proud to bring them aboard.”

Wheeler said the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand appeals to the broadest range of consumers, particularly those seeking high-end and resort homes in the region. She believes her brokerage will earn more of the market’s high-end listings because of its brand membership. “The Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand stands for excellence in real estate, as does Freewheeler Realty,” she explained. “We’re confident that consumers in our marketplace will embrace Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Freewheeler Realty like no other brokerage.”

With their network membership, Freewheeler Realty agents gain access to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ Global Network Platform, a powerful tool suite driving lead generation, marketing support, social media, video production/distribution and more. The network also provides global listing syndication, relocation referrals, professional education and the exclusive Luxury Collection marketing program for high-end listings.

“Tools in the Global Network Platform will help our team gain efficiencies and serve more clients,” Wheeler said. “Of course, the digital marketing support and international listing syndication provided by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices will bring much more attention to our listings. Without question, we’re excited for the future.”

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway Assumes Motor Accident Commission’s Back Book of Compulsory Third Party Claims

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Berkshire Hathaway is investing in South Australia, the conglomerate is taking over the Motor Accident Commission’s ‘back book’ of Compulsory Third Party (CTP) vehicle insurance claims.

The South Australia treasurer, Rob Lucas, said Berkshire Hathaway would establish operations in Adelaide as its Reinsurance Division takes over management of the Motor Accident Commission’s ‘back book’ of Compulsory Third Party (CTP) vehicle insurance claims.

Lucas said the move – to take effect from January 1, next year – was a natural consequence of the former Labor government’s decision in 2014 to privatize the provision of CTP vehicle insurance in SA and would put the state on the map with global investors.

“This is a significant coup for South Australia,’’ said Treasurer Lucas.

“Having an investment company of Berkshire Hathaway’s global standing come and set up in Adelaide not only speaks volumes for our sound business environment, but for the progressive leadership of the new Liberal government under Premier Steven Marshall.

“Berkshire Hathaway’s reinsurance arm, National Indemnity Company, is the only reinsurance company in the world with the same AA+ credit rating as South Australia, offering SA policy claimants security over future claims, as well as excellent value for taxpayers who no longer bear the risk of movements in investments and claims outcomes.

“For example, this year’s Mid-Year Budget Review will include a significant reduction in returns to the budget from MAC.

“Put simply, assets and liabilities from MAC will be transferred to Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity Company, so that all the risks of managing MAC’s liabilities will be transferred to Berkshire Hathaway.

“Part of the arrangement will see $300 million of the reinsurance premium retained in South Australia – with at least $100 million retained for five years – for local funds management.

“The Government will consider a range of options to help implement a key election commitment to grow local funds management activity.”

Berkshire Hathaway CEO and Chairman Warren Buffett said he looked forward to the potential of growing his business in South Australia.

“We are thrilled to have agreed terms with South Australia to reinsure their auto liabilities, and we would love to find more opportunities to do business there,” Buffett said.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. also has significant worldwide interests in energy, utilities, infrastructure, rail, retail and manufacture.

In October, the State Government announced it would wind down the Motor Accident Commission, a ‘natural consequence’ of the former Labor Government’s decision in 2014 to privatize the provision of CTP vehicle insurance in SA – which had been MAC’s core function.

MAC ceased writing new CTP insurance policies from July 1, 2016 but has remained responsible for managing a ‘back book’ of claims issued up to and including June 30, 2016.

The MAC Board has approved acceptance of the Berkshire Hathaway bid.

Background

The former Labor government, in September 2014, approved a new framework to assess unsolicited proposals to government.

Under this framework, and just prior to the state election, Berkshire Hathaway submitted an unsolicited proposal to the former Labor government to manage the ‘MAC back book’. This bid was only valid for an off-market exclusive transaction.

Treasury engaged respected financial advisory firm Moelis who concluded the proposal was unique and presented as value for money. Moelis recommended approval for the proposal and concluded Berkshire Hathaway’s history supported the conclusion that the Berkshire Hathaway bid was only valid for an off-market exclusive transaction.

The existing Allianz claims management contract will remain in place at least until its current expiry of June 30, 2019. Berkshire Hathaway will explore with Allianz long-term arrangements. Claimants will not experience any change in their claims management experience.

After the deal is concluded, budgeted returns from MAC to the budget will reduce by up to an estimated $68 million over the 3-year period from 2019-20.

Early next year, the Government intends to release most of the contractual documentation with some commercially confidential provisions redacted.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway Pulls Out of Hong Kong Government Employees’ Compensation Terrorism Pool

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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company has withdrawn from the Hong Kong Employees’ Compensation terrorism pool effective December 1, 2018, and will provide coverage on its own.

This decision benefits all BHSI’s new and existing EC customers for policies incepting or renewing on or after December 1, 2018.

BHSI is now the first insurer in Hong Kong to provide EC terrorism coverage to customers directly, backed by Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company’s financial strength.

The EC terrorism pool was established to provide terrorism cover for Hong Kong EC policyholders after the September 11th terror events when capacity had receded in the international markets. Whilst participation is voluntary, the pool provides a maximum limit of HK $10 billion which until now was shared among all EC policyholders for all terrorism claims on a “first come, first served” basis.

Insurers participating in the pool must charge their EC policyholders a 3% levy on policy premiums which is then remitted to the Hong Kong SAR Government. According to the terms of the pool, those participating insurers are not obligated to pay EC terrorism claims to their customers until the pool first pays the insurer for the claims.

Effective December 1, the EC terrorism coverage provided by BHSI is no longer subject to any of the pool’s restrictions. BHSI’s customers are no longer subject to the 3% levy on their EC policy premiums; BHSI policyholders no longer need to share a limit with all the other EC policyholders in Hong Kong; and payments for terrorism claims are no longer contingent upon payment or reimbursement from the pool.

“The feedback from the customers and brokers we have discussed our approach with has been incredibly encouraging,” said Marc Breuil, CEO of BHSI Hong Kong. “BHSI’s Employees’ Compensation policies are now exclusively backed by its own financial strength – which carries the same S&P rating as the Hong Kong SAR Government – and provide EC terrorism coverage to policyholders without the obligation to pay the levy. We are excited to offer this market-changing coverage development to our current and future EC customers, said Mr. Breuil.”

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy Supports New Wind Wildlife Research Fund

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Berkshire Hathaway Energy, one of the leaders in wind energy production, is one of two dozen companies in the U.S. wind power industry that have signed up so far to back a new fund facilitating research that will speed development and deployment of innovative solutions related to wind and wildlife.

The news was announced at the Intercontinental St. Paul Riverfront Hotel in Saint Paul, Minn., before an audience of 400 wind and wildlife researchers, regulators, conservationists, and industry leaders gathered for the national Wind Wildlife Research Meeting held every two years.

The new Wind Wildlife Research Fund will be housed within the American Wind Wildlife Institute(AWWI), an independent, nonprofit organization created by leaders in the wind industry and conservation and science communities to better understand wind energy’s risks to wildlife and create solutions.

The Wind Wildlife Research Fund currently has 28 companies participating and organizers hope to reach 35 corporate participants in 2019.

“I’m excited. This really is unprecedented,” said Kyle Boudreaux of NextEra Energy Resources and chairman of the Fund’s leadership group. “The only thing that would limit this is participation, and it’s off to a great start.”

The Wind Wildlife Research Fund continues the wind industry’s proud legacy of care for wildlife.

Increased reliance on wind power results in cleaner air, water and other environmental benefits. Even with relatively low impacts, the wind industry continues its commitment to work with conservation partners to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to wildlife and their habitats.

Industry leaders were briefed on progress in creating the Fund during the American Wind Energy Association’s Clean Energy Executive Summit in Colorado Springs. There Tristan Grimbert, CEO of EDF Renewables, and Greg Wolf, CEO Leeward Renewable Energy, celebrated AWWI’s 10th anniversary and described the new effort.

“The Fund is a tremendous step forward, and further evidence of the wind industry’s commitment to responsible wind development,” Grimbert said in Colorado. “A significant amount of important research about how to make wind energy safer for wildlife has been done since AWWI was founded in 2008, but collectively, we recognize that there is more to know, and we are pleased to support this initiative.”

The Fund will be used to directly support research projects that will advance understanding of technologies and strategies that can help reduce or avoid those interactions. Investments in the Fund will come from wind energy companies, supplemented by public funding and with support from other conservation-minded entities.

“This first-of-its-kind fund will make it possible to continue to expand wind energy development while also protecting and conserving wildlife populations,” Wolf said at the Clean Energy Executive Summit. “It speaks volumes about the wind industry’s values that so many companies have stepped up to invest in the Fund. I encourage everyone to participate, because doing so will help position wind energy to prosper and thrive in the years to come.”

Participating so far in the Fund are: American Wind Energy Association, Apex Clean Energy, Avangrid Renewables, Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company, Clearway Energy Group, ConnectGen, DTE Energy, Duke Energy Renewables, EDF Renewables, EDP Renewables, Enel Green Power, Engie, Identiflight, Invenergy, Innogy Renewables, Leeward Energy, MAP Energy LLC, NextEra Energy Resources, NRG Systems, Pattern Energy Group, Portland General Electric, Puget Sound Energy, RES Americas, Siemens Gamesa, Southern Power, sPower, Tradewind Energy, and Tri Global Energy.

Berkshire hathaway Energy’s wind projects include the 300-megawatt Jumbo Road project near Hereford, Texas; 168-megawatt Pinyon Pines I and 132-megawatt Pinyon Pines II projects, located near Tehachapi, California; 81-megawatt Bishop Hill II project in Henry County, Illinois; 400-megawatt Grande Prairie project in Holt County, Nebraska; 72-megawatt Marshall project in Marshall County, Kansas; and 212-megawatt Walnut Ridge project in Bureau County, Illinois, which is still in development.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Professional Realty to Use ShelterZoom Blockchain Real Estate Platform

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Professional Realty will beta test ShelterZoom, the first blockchain-based real estate purchase and rental deal platform.

“The real estate industry is rapidly changing and the underlying technology platforms that once served our industry are too inefficient for the future,” said David Mussari, Managing Partner at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Professional Realty. “The innovation that ShelterZoom has built using blockchain is going to vastly improve the way we all do business. We are excited to take part in their beta testing and do our small part in helping to move our industry forward.”

Set to go live in Q1 2019, the marketplace will incorporate a proprietary blockchain platform built for real estate transactions and services (title, mortgage, legal, home inspection, moving, etc.) as the first step in a planned rollout across other industries like financial services, import/export and supply chain.

ShelterZoom is creating the world’s first end-to-end, blockchain-powered ecosystem for all deals, participants and services in the global real estate industry. By addressing the end-to-end process and not just the offer and acceptance phase, it is expected to deliver a richer, more comprehensive user experience to all participants with the utmost convenience, trust, security, transparency, auditability and profitability.

“With this next-generation, blockchain-powered marketplace, we are taking the real estate industry into technology’s future,” said Chao Cheng-Shorland, ShelterZoom’s CEO and co-founder. “Our current platform is already helping agents, buyers, sellers and renters make the big leap to technology’s present, and we’re excited to initiate another industry sea change in early 2019.”

ShelterZoom’s new ecosystem will be a pioneering deal and service marketplace to allow instant dealmaking, interactive contract management, speedy closing and convenient service acquisition. The benefit to all participants in the marketplace – real estate professionals, consumers and service providers – will be the ability for any party to showcase, initiate, negotiate, consummate, search and refer deals, and acquire services at their fingertips.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Lubrizol Corp. and Vidalia Denim Create Strategic Relationship

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Berkshire Hathaway’s The Lubrizol Corp. and Vidalia Denim, a division of Vidalia Mills Co., have entered into a strategic relationship that makes Lubrizol a preferred supplier of stretch fibers in its denim fabrics.

Both companies will work closely to maximize the performance and eco-friendly attributes of Lubrizol’s X4zol™-J elastomeric fiber in Vidalia’s production of denim fabrics.

Dan Feibus, CEO of Vidalia Mills Co., stated: “The production of stretch fabrics holds such an important place in the denim industry today. Vidalia’s decision to work with Lubrizol as a preferred supplier of stretch fibers furthers our mission to build the most efficient and environmentally friendly denim mill in North America.”

Feibus added, “Lubrizol provides us with an innovative state-of-the-art solution for sustainably produced, high-performance stretch fiber, and represents a key element in the evolution of great denim products and we are extremely excited to be working with Lubrizol on this project. Lubrizol is a global leader whose commitment to constant innovation and best practice sustainable manufacturing are a perfect fit for Vidalia.”

“We at Lubrizol are truly excited about teaming up with Vidalia to incorporate our X4zol-J technology into their denim fabrics,” Rob Richardson, global business director for Performance Apparel at Lubrizol, said. “While X4zol-J has already been adopted by many strategic global denim brands, we see this as an essential next step in helping advance the apparel industry’s sustainability agenda.”

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

MidAmerican Energy Piloting Battery Storage for Its Wind Turbines

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Iowa is quickly becoming the state powered by wind, but the only problem is when the wind isn’t blowing.

Now, that problem is one step closer to a solution, as Berkshire Hathaway’s MidAmerican Energy is testing a commercial battery storage system with the capability of powering 900 homes for four hours.

The system is being built by Chicago-based Invenergy, one of the earliest pioneers in advanced energy storage and North America’s leading owner and operator of the transformative technology.

Invenergy specializes in large-scale advanced battery systems that instantaneously absorb and inject energy to help with grid management, while minimizing infrastructure costs. Large-scale batteries support grid reliability by regulating frequency and balancing variations in wind and solar production.

The lithium-iron phosphate system is planned to be in service by the end of December, and will be housed at a Knoxville, Iowa substation.

If the project is successful, it may see broader application storing power for MidAmerican’s thousands of wind turbines that are transforming Iowa into an alternative energy success story.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Laffey International Realty Merges with Pugatch Realty Corp.

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Laffey International Realty has merged with Pugatch Realty Corp. of Woodmere, New York.

The union gives Laffey International Realty – a North Shore luxury real estate leader – access to the expansive South Shore marketplace and The Five Towns.

Pugatch Realty Brokers Barry Pugatch and Susan Pugatch have joined Long Island, New York-based Laffey International Realty executive team – including Emmett Laffey, Gregory Berkowitz and John Schoonmaker – as managing partners. They bring with them more than 30 seasoned agents and a loyal following of clients.

“We are elated to join forces with Barry, Susan and their fine team,” said Emmett Laffey, president and CEO of Laffey International Realty. “The brokerage is highly respected in the South Shore marketplace and is known for great service and extensive market expertise. Strategically, our union extends Laffey International Realty’s reach on Long Island. We’re excited to serve the South Shore and The Five Towns.”

Barry Pugatch, a real estate veteran whose local influence dates to 1969, said the merger will benefit real estate consumers. “This is great news for home buyers and sellers in The Five Towns,” he said. “Pugatch Realty remains the same great team that has served the market since 1991 and is backed by Laffey International Realty and the powerful Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand. Our agents now have access to the industry’s best tools and resources, which will help them provide even better service with greater efficiency.”

Berkowitz said the union is an ideal match of real estate strategy and philosophy. “I met Barry Pugatch more than 15 years ago and knew at that time we had to one day join forces,” he explained. “That day is now a reality and we’re ready to move forward and serve all of Long Island.”

Laffey International Realty is a perennial leader in the North Shore’s bustling luxury market. It tops the market in key sales categories such as per-agent productivity and per-office productivity as its new-homes division and ultra-luxury and waterfront property sales operations continue growing.

Gino Blefari, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, applauded the merger.

“Long Island’s finest real estate operators have come together to form a super brokerage,” Blefari said. “Laffey International Realty has it all, starting with service, expertise and integrity. We’re proud to support the brokerage and its outstanding agents as they grow and thrive.”

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Italian Eatery Coming to Grandscape

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Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar, a Chicago-based restaurant that is ranked in the top 100 highest-grossing independent restaurants nation-wide, is coming to Berkshire Hathaway’s The Colony’s Grandscape development sometime in 2020.

Quartino is owned by Gibson Restaurant Group, which has four restaurants in the 100 top-grossing independent restaurants in the U.S.

The restaurant is described as an Italian restaurant and wine bar offering authentic regional Italian food and wine in a lively, welcoming atmosphere.

The addition comes as Berkshire Hathaway continues to build out Grandscape, its 400+ acre Dallas-area development that features over 3 million square feet of retail, entertainment, dining, residential, office and attractions.

The commercial development is anchored by Berkshire’s Nebraska Furniture Mart, which alone takes up 100 acres and has a 560,000 square foot retail showroom.

Grandscape continues to use the bigger is better philosophy.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.