AIG Partners with Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity on Reinsurance Agreement

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American International Group, Inc. (AIG) has entered into a binding term sheet for an adverse development reinsurance agreement, effective January 1, 2016, with National Indemnity Company (NICO), a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The agreement covers 80% of substantially all of AIG’s U.S. Commercial long-tail exposures for accident years 2015 and prior, which includes the largest part of AIG’s U.S. casualty exposures during that period. AIG will retain sole authority to handle and resolve claims, and NICO has various access, association and consultation rights.

“This decisive step enables us to focus firmly on the future and build on the progress we’ve made in transforming AIG,” said Peter D. Hancock, AIG President and Chief Executive Officer. “The agreement supports our stated strategy and gives us additional risk capacity to serve our clients and return capital to shareholders.”

The consideration for this agreement is $9.8 billion payable in full by June 30, 2017, with interest at 4% per annum from January 1, 2016 to date of payment. The consideration paid to NICO will be placed into a collateral trust account as security for NICO’s claim payment obligations to the AIG operating subsidiaries, and Berkshire Hathaway will provide a parental guarantee to secure the obligations of NICO under the agreement.

NICO is assuming 80% of the net losses and net allocated loss adjustment expenses on the subject reserves in excess of the first $25 billion and NICO’s overall limit of liability under the agreement is $20 billion. This provides material protection to policyholders against adverse developments beyond current reserve levels.

AIG’s fourth quarter reserve review is being finalized and the results of this review will be included in the company’s year-end financial results. AIG currently expects a material prior year adverse development charge in the fourth quarter.

The agreement will be accounted for in the first quarter of 2017 as a retroactive reinsurance agreement. AIG will recognize a loss or a deferred gain at inception of the agreement equal to the difference between the consideration paid and the ceded reserves as of December 31, 2016. Had this agreement been entered into on January 1, 2016, AIG would have recognized a loss of approximately $2.9 billion, based on carried reserves of approximately $34 billion, net of discount at that time. This loss would be reduced by AIG’s expected reinsurance recoveries from NICO’s 80% share of any 2016 calendar year adverse prior year development covered by the contract. If that share exceeds $2.9 billion, then a deferred gain is established, which will be amortized into the income statement in line with expected cash reinsurance recoveries from NICO.

The closing of the transaction contemplated by this agreement is subject to receipt of any required regulatory approvals, execution of definitive transaction documentation and satisfaction of other conditions.

© 2017 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.

BYD to Bring Pure Electric Buses to Argentina

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China’s BYD Company has been officially selected as the recommended company by the evaluation committee in Argentina for the purchase of 50 electric buses on behalf of the Ministry of Environment.

The tender was launched by the Ministry of Environment as a pilot project for the introduction of electric public transport in different cities throughout the country.

The bid evaluation committee chose BYD amongst a pool of 5 bidders for its successful 12-meter electric bus, which is already widely used in cities such as London, Los Angeles, and Amsterdam.

BYD begun the promotion of its technologies in Argentina in 2011 through its local subsidiary, especially those related to electric vehicles and public transport. In November 2011, the company signed its first MOU with the Ministry of Industry and the Secretary of Transport.

During BYD’s senior-level management visit to the country in May 2016, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri and Minister of Environment Sergio Bergman expressed their high expectations for the introduction of BYD technologies and electric vehicle models to their nation’s public transportation systems.

BYD expects to receive the necessary allocation within the next few weeks.
To better satisfy market demands, BYD plans to build a new local manufacturing plant in Argentina. This plant would bring foreign investment to Argentina, and will have a significant impact in the creation of new jobs.

BYD and Berkshire Hathaway

In 2008, Berkshire Hathaway bet on BYD’s potential, purchasing 225 million shares. It’s an investment that has paid off handsomely. Berkshire’s original investment of $230 million is now worth roughly $1.77 billion.

For More on BYD, read the Special Report: BYD, Berkshire’s Tesla.

© 2017 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’s HomeServices of America Acquires Houlihan Lawrence

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In a major acquisition, HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company, has added over a thousand sales associates in the New York Area. HomeServices has acquired Houlihan Lawrence, one of the leading real estate firms serving New York City’s northern suburbs.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Headquartered in the northern suburbs of New York City, Houlihan Lawrence serves the Westchester, Fairfield, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange and Ulster counties of New York and Connecticut with 1,300 sales associates operating in 30 sales offices. In 2016, Houlihan Lawrence closed $6.7 billion of sales volume.

Established in 1888, Houlihan Lawrence has been known to generations of buyers and sellers for its leadership in luxury representation and local expertise delivered by a team of knowledgeable agents coupled with the firm’s renowned advanced technologies and data driven insights. Nancy Seaman will step aside as chairman while her brothers Stephen Meyers, president and CEO, and Chris Meyers, managing principal, will continue to lead the firm’s strategic growth initiatives and manage day-to-day operations together with their sales management teams. Houlihan Lawrence, like other locally-branded brokerage companies under the HomeServices umbrella, will retain its name.

“We are joining an organization known for its strength and stability,” said Stephen Meyers. “Our partnership secures the future of the firm without changing the exceptional culture that is core to our storied brand. We are thrilled with this announcement and the many benefits it brings to our clients and agents.”

“When you combine the incredible strength of our people and the remarkable history of our success with the unsurpassed financial stability of HomeServices, there is no limit to what we can accomplish,” added Chris Meyers.

“Nancy, Stephen and Chris, together with their team of sales managers and agents, have built an extraordinary organization and exemplify a level of expertise and leadership that is second-to-none in the real estate business today,” said Ron Peltier, chairman and CEO, HomeServices. “Their culture of integrity and innovation closely aligns with our corporate vision and our emphasis on customer value and results.”

With this transaction, HomeServices has nearly 29,500 real estate professionals operating in nearly 570 offices across 28 states. In 2016, the company’s associates facilitated more than $93 billion in residential real estate sales.

© 2017 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 Specialty Insurance to Offer Reinsurance in Malaysia

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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company (BHSI) has received a license from Labuan FSA to provide non-life reinsurance to the Malaysian market.

The company also established a new office in Kuala Lumpur and named Gaithrie Nandrajog as Branch Manager and Koo Kang Wuu as Executive & Professional Lines and Business Development Manager in Malaysia.

After putting down roots in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau, we are pleased to further expand our operations in Asia and bring facultative reinsurance capacity and new products with the backing of our strong balance sheet to selected Malaysian insurance partners,” said Marc Breuil, President, Asia, BHSI. “With the opening of our Malaysian office, we continue to deepen our underwriting and claims capabilities in the region.”

Gaithrie, who will oversee BHSI’s new Malaysian reinsurance operation, holds a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of West England, Bristol. Koo holds an MBA from RMIT University plus a B. A. (Hons) from the University of Hertfordshire (UK). Both come to BHSI with more than a decade of experience in the Malaysian insurance industry.

© 2017 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.

Forest River Enters Luxury Bus Market

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Ready to take a flight on your private jet? Well, you can’t just roll out on the tarmac in any old shuttle bus. You need a shuttle bus with oodles of fine leather, USB ports for every seat, and LED mood lighting.

Berkshire Hathaway’s RV and bus manufacturer, Forest River, has added a luxury bus product line to its existing buses. The move comes because of feedback from its dealers. Forest River is the largest shuttle bus manufacturer in the United States, but didn’t have a specific luxury division.

The new luxury shuttle bus division has been dubbed Berkshire Coach, and will operate separately from Forest River’s Elkhart Coach, Glaval Bus, Starcraft Bus, and Startrans bus companies.

Berkshire Coach is building its shuttle buses at its recently acquired facility in Elkhart, Indiana. Formerly the Ameritrans Bus facility, it was acquired by Forest River in July 2016. Berkshire Coach currently has 25 employees and is projecting an expansion to 75 employees by the end of 2017.

According to Berkshire Coach, what sets the new luxury buses a part from the competition is the wide range of standard features, including Ultra Lux seating, roof-mounted, center aisle, ducted heating and air conditioning system, individual USB ports, seat belts, overhead Hadley Swan premium luggage racks and mood-setting LED lighting. The luxury cabin is further enhanced by wood-look composite flooring, suede finishes, frameless windows, panoramic skyview front window and 19” LED monitors located in the front of the coach.

David Wright, Senior General Manager at Forest River, states, “When we decided to launch a brand new division almost a year ago, we made the commitment to build America’s best luxury bus. After months of research and development and spending extensive time with our dealers and their customers, we are proud to introduce the Berkshire Ultra. Berkshire Coach’s intelligent luxury offers a product and experience that is unparalleled in the industry today.”

Troy Snyder, General Manager of Berkshire Coach, added, “We simplified the process for our customers and their dealers by making all luxury options standard equipment and backing it all with the most complete warranty in the industry. From Ultra Lux seating to individual USB ports at each seat, and everything inbetwe en, it all comes standard and is covered with the industry’s most comprehensive 5-year/100,000 mile warranty.”

© 2017 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.

GEICO Creates Virtual Assistant “Kate” to Answer Insurance Questions

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If you have an insurance question just ask Kate, GEICO’s new virtual assistant. Available through the GEICO Mobile app, you can ask Kate a question and she will respond with quick, personalized answers.

“Interactive voice assistant technology has altered the way customers interact with their mobile devices,” said Pete Meoli, GEICO mobile and digital experience director. “Kate is very intuitive and has been programmed to connect with policyholders at a deeper level.”

Kate is available 24/7 to policyholders and makes self-service easier by answering questions and helping with their policy needs. She has been programmed to know about insurance and can provide customers with specific policy information. Customers can also initiate conversations with Kate by typing or speaking to her.

Meoli notes that Kate has a personal side and will reveal details about herself if asked. “We wanted her to be friendly with a natural interaction,” said Meoli. “She is always learning from our customers and will be an integral part of enhancing their experiences with GEICO.”

Kate is currently available within the mobile app for iOS, with plans to introduce her to Android policyholders in early 2017.

© 2017 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.

MiTek Acquires DIY Technologies

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Berkshire Hathaway’s MiTek Industries, Inc., a diversified, global business supplying a wide range of engineered products; proprietary business management and design software; and automated equipment to the construction and industrial markets, has acquired DIY Technologies. Terms of the acquisition were not announced.

Headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, DIY is a market leader in web-based design software for a wide range of home improvement and renovation projects.

“I am delighted with the acquisition of DIY, which has an enviable leadership position as a provider of on-line design software to the do-it-yourself, home improvement market. This acquisition is yet another extension of our leading position in technology serving the residential construction industry,” stated Tom Manenti, Chairman and CEO of MiTek. “DIY has established long-term relationships with some of the nation’s largest and most-respected retailers and building-products manufacturers. The combination of MiTek’s software and capital resources, along with DIY’s comprehensive web-based software, will provide unparalleled technology tools that will enhance our customers’ value proposition.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Michael Heisler and his team to the MiTek family and look forward to supporting their business model while expanding their software offerings and services, as we continue to grow DIY’s business,” Manenti commented.

Michael Heisler, CEO and founder of DIY added, “This acquisition is the culmination of more than ten years of successful partnering with MiTek. I am excited that DIY and all our employees have joined the MiTek and Berkshire Hathaway family. I have seen how MiTek truly ‘lives’ its core values, and because of this and its compelling vision of providing unrivaled, highly productive technology to the global residential and commercial construction industry, I know MiTek is the ideal home for DIY.”

© 2017 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.

Richline Group Acquires International Jewelry Manufacturer

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Richline Group, a leading jewelry manufacturer and marketer, has acquired The Aaron Group. No terms of the acquisition were announced.

Since its founding as Samuel Aaron Jewelry in 1950, the Aaron Group has grown from its New York City roots to become a widely renowned, vertically integrated international jewelry manufacturer. Along the way, the Aaron Group has remained a true family business and, under the stewardship of third-generation leader Robert (Bobby) Kempler, has achieved stature as a major global force, with operations, factories, partnerships and hundreds of employees in New York, London, Mumbai, Hong Kong, and Guangzhou.

“We are extremely excited and energized about joining forces with The Aaron Group. The Aaron Group’s differentiated, prime-manufactured products will offer Richline’s retail partners a dramatic new range of options and increased value, while preserving the legacy of customer satisfaction that both companies prioritize,” said Dave Meleski, Richline Group’s President.

Richline’s CEO, Dennis Ulrich, said “this acquisition will allow The Aaron Group to continue as the leader of bridal, three-stone and fashion diamond and gemstone fine jewelry while leveraging Richline’s advanced capabilities across our entire jewelry value chain.”

Per Aaron Group President, Robert Kempler, “Richline Group support will enable The Aaron Group to grow faster, introduce new designs and collections more rapidly, and expand on our history of success by reaching a broader array of customers and markets. Our mutual goal is to anticipate, foster and drive positive change in our industry.”

About The Aaron Group

The Aaron Group is an international jewelry manufacturer with hundreds of employees in offices around the world. A firm believer in the power of jewelry to connect people, The Aaron Group has grown from its 1950 founding as a one-man shop to become globally recognized in the jewelry industry, with an unblemished reputation for quality, value, and commitment to the customer.

© 2017 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 to Sell Marine Insurance in Canada

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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) is introducing Inland and Ocean Marine Insurance in Canada and has named Gord Rider as Senior Marine Underwriter.

“We are pleased to welcome Gord to our team of marine specialists,” said John Evans, Vice President of Marine, BHSI. “With Gord at the helm, BHSI in Canada has launched ocean marine products — including ocean cargo, stock throughput and project cargo insurance — as well as a full line of inland marine products. All of these products come with BHSI’s hallmark clarity of coverage and formidable financial strength.”

Gord joins BHSI from Chubb Insurance Company of Canada, where he was most recently Senior Marine Underwriter. Before that, he was a Marine Underwriter at Chubb and at Coast Underwriters Ltd. He received a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax.

© 2017 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.

MiTek Industries Appoints New CEO

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Berkshire Hathaway’s MiTek Industries, Inc. has appointed Mark Thom as its new CEO. The current CEO, Tom Manenti, will assume the role of Executive Chairman for 2017. For now, Mr. Manenti will continue to report to Warren Buffett.

Mr. Thom has a rich background of executive leadership and achievement in management and sales. For 16 years, he led teams within the former Tyco Healthcare, a nearly $12 billion global manufacturer of medical and pharmaceutical products, where Mr. Thom received top honors as a sales person.

Thom began his career at Tyco Healthcare after graduation from Miami University and rose to the role of president of the Tyco’s Vascular Therapy division in 1998, just eight years after he left college. Soon after Tyco Healthcare acquired Mallinckrodt Medical, Mr. Thom was named president of Mallinckrodt’s Diagnostic Imaging business, and he was later named Group President, Tyco Healthcare in early 2003. In recent years he served as leadership consultant to the MiTek senior leadership team, where he learned the MiTek business and its culture.

Mr. Thom assumes the CEO role at MiTek at a fortuitous time for the Company. With notable acquisitions, diversification, and organic growth, MiTek has doubled in size since 2011, and has a strategic plan in place to double again over the next five years. His addition now provides leadership continuity as Mr. Manenti retires in January, 2018.

“The naming of Mark to the CEO position addresses one of my key business imperatives – Leadership Development and Succession Planning – a well-developed and widely used road map for MiTek leadership into the future,” said Tom Manenti, Chairman and CEO of MiTek. “More importantly, Mark is simply a top performer, in the very elite class of executives in multiple categories of corporate operations and effective leadership. I was thrilled when Mark accepted the CEO position. It was a banner day for MiTek worldwide!”

MiTek is a diversified, global business supplying a wide range of engineered products; proprietary business management and design software; and automated equipment to the construction and industrial markets.

© 2017 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.