Berkshire’s Intero Continues Expansion in California and Nevada

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Intero, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate and wholly owned subsidiary of HomeServices of America, Inc., has acquired two Intero franchise locations in Gardnerville, NV and Markleeville, CA. The two locations currently house 26 agents and come with nearly 285 active listings.

Business partners and former franchise owners, Teddy Carlson-McKone and Dennis McDuffee, will transition to the roles of Vice President and Managing Officer of both locations.

“We’re thrilled to continue our growth and reach throughout California and Nevada,” said Brian Crane, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Intero – a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate. “The Carson Valley and Nevada represent a great opportunity for Intero. Teddy and Dennis and the company they have built represent the best of Intero and we’re proud to bring them on to the corporate team. We look forward to growing our presence in northern Nevada and the Greater Tahoe region with Teddy and Dennis leading the way.”

The attraction to these locations was based on the high-quality agents, their production level, and their stellar reputation within the region. The Gardnerville office has been voted by the public as the #1 Real Estate Office by the local newspaper, The Record Courier, in the annual “Best of Carson Valley” section. They have secured this honor for three years running. In addition, Dennis McDuffee was voted as the top commercial real estate agent for the annual awards.

“We couldn’t be happier with this next chapter in our Intero journey,” said Teddy Carlson-McKone, Vice President and Managing Officer of Intero Gardnerville and Markleeville. “We’ve been part of the Intero family for 10 wonderful years and now it gets even better with the support of the corporate team, HomeServices of America and Berkshire Hathaway.”

Intero, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate and wholly owned subsidiary of HomeServices of America Inc., serves Northern California and Nevada with 22 offices throughout the greater Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Calaveras County, Western Nevada and the Greater Lake Tahoe Region. The Intero Franchise network is comprised of 55 affiliates located in Alabama, California, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas. The company is headquartered in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley.

© 2020 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 a 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.

Signature Flight Support, Neste and NetJets in Strategic Partnership to Accelerate the Adoption of Sustainable Aviation Fuel

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A pioneering collaboration combines Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) production and distribution, establishing a permanent supply for private aviation operators at San Francisco and London-Luton.

Cognizant of the important and active role that private aviation plays in environmental responsibility, Signature Flight Support announces the introduction of Signature Renew, a company-wide global sustainability initiative to innovate and invigorate the journey toward net-zero carbon emissions. Central to the program is accelerating the use of SAF for private aircraft, with Signature initially establishing permanent supplies of low emission fuel at two key gateways – San Francisco Int’l Airport (SFO) in the United States and London-Luton Airport (LTN) in the United Kingdom.

Neste, a leading producer of renewable products and the world’s third most sustainable company according to Corporate Knights’ 2020 ranking, has agreed in principle to supply Signature Renew with Neste MY SustainableAviation Fuel™. Encompassing an expected five million gallons, the volume of SAF that Signature has committed to purchase from Neste is the largest agreement by a Fixed Base Operator to date. Furthermore, NetJets, the worldwide leader in private aviation, has announced its role as a launch customer for Signature Renew supplied SAF in San Francisco.

Neste MY Renewable Jet Fuel™, is a sustainable aviation fuel that in neat form and over the lifecycle reduces GHG emissions up to 80% compared to fossil jet fuel. The fuel provides an immediate solution for reducing the direct carbon emissions of flying.

The creation of the Signature Renew program aligns with the needs of many aircraft operators that are accountable to their parent organization’s corporate sustainability goals. SAF gallons purchased via Signature SFO will take advantage of the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) tax incentive program, while at London-Luton operators can reduce carbon offsetting needs for the EU ETS.

Prior to use, the SAF is blended with fossil jet fuel and is then verified to meet ASTM jet fuel specification. In its neat form and over the lifecycle, SAF can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel. Once blended at a 35% ratio, Signature anticipates more than a 25% reduction in direct net lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft using the SFO and LTN SAF blends.

“Signature is undertaking a momentous step that enables the wide-scale adoption of SAF,” explained Tony Lefebvre, Chief Operating Officer for Signature. “Prior to establishing a permanent supply of SAF, FBOs have only been able to provide a few thousand gallons at one time – typically by request of an individual aircraft operator or for a one-off event. Signature is committing to having SAF available for uplift in San Francisco in the next few weeks, culminating in the world’s first 100 percent sustainably supplied FBO Q1 2021.” He continued, “By having the first FBO in the world that is able to offer operators a reliable, full volume supply of SAF at a competitive price only a few dollars beyond traditional Jet A, we are providing the critical acceleration that industry trade groups and aviation regulators have cited as a necessary step on the path to widespread adoption.”

Neste has been at the vanguard of sustainable aviation fuel production for nearly a decade, and the company will have the capacity to produce some 1.5 million tonnes (515 million gallons) of SAF annually by 2023. Neste’s SAF is made from sustainably sourced, renewable waste and residue materials – such as used cooking oil for example. It is a drop in fuel that offers an immediate way to reduce the direct greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, requiring no new investments, modifications, or changes to procedures.

“Together, we are taking a big step forward in providing passengers with a way to reduce their own environmental handprint,” says Chris Cooper, Vice President, Renewable Aviation North America, Neste. “People who travel by private aircraft know there’s an environmental impact and many of them want a more sustainable option. In fact, a good number of people relying on private aviation are either working for companies with established climate goals or individuals who have personally committed to fighting climate change. This partnership means that passengers can look forward to being able to board a private aircraft fueled by SAF and help fight – not contribute – to climate change in the near future.”

Additionally, NetJets is the launch customer of sustainable fuel supplied by the Signature Renew program at SFO with a commitment to purchase up to 3m gallons of SAF, representing a large portion of Signature’s total volume at the airport. The non-exclusive agreement will support the continued expansion and availability of SAF throughout the business and general aviation industry. All of NetJets aircraft visiting the San Francisco Int’l Airport will be supplied with Neste-produced low-carbon fuel, uplifted by Signature.

“NetJets is pleased to be Signature’s first major SAF client,” said Brad Ferrell, NetJets Executive Vice President, Administrative Services. “We are thrilled to be the first private aviation company with a commitment to purchase sustainable fuel for all NetJets flights out of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Columbus International Airport (CMH). This first initiative helps to lay the groundwork for our sustainability program which aims to solidify our unwavering commitment to excellence.”

© 2020 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.

Johns Manville Building Polyiso Production Plant in Texas

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Johns Manville has begun construction of a new production plant in Hillsboro, Texas.

The plant, which is projected to be completed by mid-2022, will manufacture polyiso products including ENRGY 3® roof insulation, ProtectoR® HD high density cover board, AP® Foil Faced Foam sheathing and GoBoard® tile backer.

These products are preferred in the market due to their high R-value per inch and the strength and durability they offer.

“We continue to invest in our business, customers and communities,” said Joe Smith, President of Roofing Systems at Johns Manville. “Increasing the availability of our products while creating new jobs is a win-win.”

When complete, the Hillsboro plant will employ more than 50 people and include a JM roofing distribution center.

The warehouse will stock many JM products, including TPO and accessories to expand customer service. Hughes Commercial Real Estate and Development will develop the site and FA Peinado Construction will be the general contractor.

The groundbreaking in Hillsboro comes on the heels of a recent expansion of JM’s Milan, Ohio, roofing products plant. That expansion increased the facility’s production capacity and added approximately 50 jobs.

© 2020 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 Appoints Team to Lead Entrance Into Executive & Professional Lines in France

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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance is entering the Executive & Professional Lines market in France and has appointed Olivier Hamon as Head of Financial Institutions and Management Liabilities and Alice Batchili as Professional Indemnity Manager.

Olivier and Alice will spearhead BHSI’s launch of a full range of products in France, including D&O Liability, Financial Institutions D&O Liability, Professional Indemnity, Employment Practices Liability, Crime, and Cyber Insurance, with an initial focus on Corporate and Upper Middle Market risks.

“Unencumbered by legacy liabilities, and committed to disciplined risk underwriting, BHSI is well positioned to provide companies across France with stable and sustainable Executive & Professional Lines solutions,” said François-Xavier d’Huart, Country Manager, France, BHSI. “Olivier and Alice bring to BHSI extensive experience and the excellent capabilities and character that are a hallmark of BHSI’s global team. We are pleased to have them building our Executive & Professional Lines portfolio and our team in France.”

Olivier has more than 12 years of insurance and financial industry experience, with a focus on Financial Lines for commercial and financial institutions in France. Earlier in his career he was a Financial Analyst at Coface Holding. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics, with Honors, from University of Paris, Panthéon-Sorbonne, and a master’s in Finance from University Paris Panthéon Assas.

Alice comes to BHSI with more than 15 years of industry experience, spanning both the insurance and brokerage sides of the business, and extensive expertise in both Professional Indemnity and Cyber Insurance. She holds a master’s degree in International Management of Insurance from Ecole Supérieure d’Assurance.
Both Olivier and Alice will be based in BHSI’s office in Paris.

© 2020 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-Backed Paytm Pulled From Google’s Play Store Over Gambling Policy Violation

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Google has pulled Berkshire Hathaway-backed Paytm from its Play Store, claiming the company has violated its gambling policies. Play Store prohibits online casinos and other unregulated gambling apps that enable sports betting in India.

Over the past decade, Paytm has become India’s leading digital payments platform in country where digital payments are projected to grow five-fold by 2023.

Suzanne Frey, Google’s Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy, said in a blog post that it doesn’t allow online casinos or support any unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting.

“This includes if an app leads consumers to an external website that allows them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes, it is a violation of our policies,” said Frey in the blog post.

“We have these policies to protect users from potential harm. When an app violates these policies, we notify the developer of the violation and remove the app from Google Play until the developer brings the app into compliance. And in the case where there are repeated policy violations, we may take more serious action which may include terminating Google Play Developer accounts. Our policies are applied and enforced on all developers consistently,” Frey said.

In 2018, Berkshire Hathaway invested $356 million for a 3-4% stake in One97 Communications Ltd, the parent of Indian digital payments company Paytm. The investment was made by Berkshire Hathaway portfolio manager Todd Combs.

“I have been impressed by Paytm and am excited about being a part of its growth story, as it looks to transform payments and financial services in India,” Combs said at the time of the investment.

Combs sits on the eight-member board of the company, which at the time of the investment included Alibaba co-founder and executive chairman Joseph Tsai, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co managing partner Pallavi Shroff, Ant Financial CEO Eric Jing, and Goldman Sachs Asia chairman Mark Schwartz.

© 2020 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 GUARD Launches Commercial Package Coverage in Illinois

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Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies recently announced it added Illinois to the list of states where the insurer offers its Commercial Package Policy.

The product includes Commercial Property featuring limits up to $120 million per location (higher limits considered), with an enhanced causes of loss form, including built-in equipment breakdown, crime coverages as well as broad inland marine coverages; General Liability with aggregate limits up to $6 million; and Commercial Umbrella for added protection.

“As we continue to expand our portfolio, our goal is to be the preferred insurance carrier our agents turn to for their insureds. We continue to supply our network of independent agents with quality products that enable them to grow,” said Sy Foguel, Berkshire Hathaway GUARD CEO. “Geared toward larger insureds, our CPP product complements our Businessowner’s Policy offering.”

Illinois is the fourth state where GUARD’s Commercial Package is available, after rollouts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in 2019 and Michigan earlier this year. Availability in more states is expected soon.

“What sets our Commercial Package apart, among other things, is how we enhance our base coverages with a wide range of add-ons, limit options and access to both proprietary and industry specific endorsements,” says Lyle Hitt, Chief Insurance Officer of Property and Casualty Insurance. “We take a customized approach to expanding the limits and scope of traditional property and casualty insurance.”

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD’s Commercial Package product is designed to address the insurance needs of larger, more complex operations with multiple exposures. Initial target markets include light-to-medium manufacturing, wholesalers and distributors, large offices/habitational buildings, truck stops/travel plazas, resort hotels, and country clubs/golf courses.

Discounts are available when seeking quotes for two or more additional applicable lines, like Worker’s Compensation or Commercial Auto.

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies is a property and casualty insurance specialist writing $2 billion in premium nationwide. GUARD offers a variety of products for both commercial and personal lines of insurance. Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies maintains a total of eight offices throughout the country.

© 2020 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 Making Hiring Push in Macon

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GEICO is adding to its robust workforce in Macon, Georgia, by adding 500 new associates by the end of the year.

There are immediate openings for Customer Service Representatives, Sales Representatives, Claims Service Representatives, Title Processing Specialists and Emergency Roadside Service Representatives with competitive salaries and GEICO’s Total Rewards benefits package, which includes health, dental and vision coverage, paid vacation and holidays, parental leave, continuing education and tuition reimbursement.

The Management Development Program is also seeking ambitious recent college graduates.

“There are more than 7,000 associates in our GEICO family here in Macon, and we are happy to see our family growing as we continue to go above and beyond to serve our customers,” Regional Vice President Frankie Silva said. “We are incredibly proud and fortunate to be able to offer career opportunities at a time when so many people are looking to get back on their feet.”

A member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies, GEICO is a stable company that was founded more than 80 years ago and has steadily risen to become the nation’s second-largest auto insurer. GEICO is a promote-from-within company that offers career growth, a supportive environment and many community engagement opportunities.

© 2020 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 a 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.

Kraft Heinz Sells Natural Cheese Business

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The Kraft Heinz Company is selling its Natural, Grated, Cultured and Specialty cheese businesses to a U.S. affiliate of Groupe Lactalis for a purchase price of $3.2 billion USD.

The proposed transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2021, subject to regulatory review and approval.

The transaction includes Kraft Heinz’s Natural, Grated, Cultured and Specialty cheese businesses in the U.S., Grated cheese business in Canada, and the entire International Cheese business outside these two countries, including the following brands: Breakstone’s, Knudsen, Polly-O, Athenos, Hoffman’s, Cracker Barrel in the U.S. only, and outside the U.S. and Canada only, Cheez Whiz.

In addition, Kraft Heinz will partner with Groupe Lactalis on a perpetual license for Kraft in Natural, Grated and International cheeses and Velveeta in Shredded and International cheeses.

Kraft Heinz will retain the Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Kraft Singles, Velveeta Processed Cheese and Cheez Whiz Processed Cheese businesses in the U.S. and Canada, the Kraft, Velveeta and Cracker Barrel Mac & Cheese businesses worldwide, and the Kraft Sauces business worldwide.

“We believe these cheese and dairy businesses will thrive in the hands of a global dairy company like Groupe Lactalis,” said Kraft Heinz CEO Miguel Patricio. “At the same time, the transaction will enable us to build sustainable competitive advantage in businesses where we have stronger brand equity, greater growth prospects and can use our manufacturing scale and consumer-based platforms approach. This is a great example of agile portfolio management at work.”

As outlined in the new Kraft Heinz operating model announced earlier today, platform roles will help guide resource allocation and investment decisions. Kraft Heinz will focus on growth areas and take strategic action where appropriate. This will help to accrete the Company’s growth profile, enhance strategic focus, and create shareholder value.

Under the terms of the agreement, Kraft Heinz will sell production facilities located in Tulare, Calif.; Walton, N.Y.; and Wausau, Wis., and a distribution center in Weyauwega, Wis. These facilities and their employees will continue to operate in ordinary course. Approximately 750 employees will be transferred from Kraft Heinz to Groupe Lactalis.

The cheese businesses being sold contributed approximately $1.8 billion USD to Kraft Heinz’s net sales for the twelve months ended June 27, 2020. The transaction valuation represents an approximate 12x multiple of LTM Adjusted EBITDA for the standalone business. Kraft Heinz expects to use post-tax transaction proceeds primarily to pay down debt.

© 2020 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 indiv

BNSF Appoints New CEO

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BNSF has announced that Executive Vice President Operations, Kathryn M. Farmer, will become President and Chief Executive Officer on Jan. 1, 2021. As CEO, she will assume leadership of BNSF’s Board of Directors.

Carl R. Ice, current President and Chief Executive Officer, will retire at the end of 2020 and remain on BNSF’s Board of Directors as well.

Farmer has been with BNSF for 28 years, most recently serving as Executive Vice President, Operations since September 2018. In 1992, Farmer joined Burlington Northern as a management trainee and has held leadership positions in every major function of the company including operations, marketing and finance. Prior to her operations role, Farmer led BNSF’s largest business unit as Group Vice President, Consumer Products.

Ice has been with BNSF for 42 years. In 1995, he led a team that orchestrated the merger and subsequent integration of Burlington Northern Railroad and Santa Fe Railway. Since then, he has helped lead the company and culture into what has become the largest Class I railroad in North America. Ice has been integral to the development of the company’s operating and marketing plans.

“I want to thank all of the men and women of BNSF. I am proud of having worked with you and all of the things that we have accomplished together. One of the most important roles of a CEO is to ensure a strong succession plan is in place,” said Ice. “Katie and I have been working toward this plan for a long time. Katie has held many different roles at BNSF with an ever-increasing impact with each new role as she has built trust and confidence throughout BNSF. I am pleased for Katie and the organization knowing BNSF’s future is in good hands. Katie is a shining example of BNSF’s leadership model and BNSF will continue to build upon its legacy.”

As a long-time member of BNSF’s leadership team, Farmer said, “I am humbled and honored to be asked to lead this incredible company and its dedicated employees—men and women that I have worked alongside for almost 30 years. We are well-positioned in our approach to safety and meeting our customers’ expectations while having the necessary capacity to grow with our customers. BNSF has long been a cost leader and we will ensure that continues into the future. I look forward to continuing BNSF’s success.”

“Carl has had a huge impact on this company and this industry having served on BNSF’s leadership team for the entire 25 years of the company’s existence. I have great respect for him and he leaves BNSF well-prepared for the next 25 years,” said Greg Abel, Vice Chairman, Non-Insurance Operations, Berkshire Hathaway. “Katie has had a long career with multiple roles at BNSF which fits well with our efforts to develop our people. Katie’s proven leadership and passion and commitment make her perfect for the role. We’re thrilled that Katie is taking over the role and have the utmost confidence in both her and BNSF’s future success.”

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett said, “BNSF is an iconic company and this is a historic day. Carl has been critical to BNSF’s success for a very long time. I thank him for his leadership and his accomplishments. We look forward to Katie’s leadership and more success. She possesses all of the qualities that make us excited about the future.”

© 2020 David Mazor


Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathawa, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell a 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 E-Buses Roll Into Toronto

BYD Canada has announced that ten zero-emission, 40-foot K9M battery-electric buses will be put into service by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), in Toronto, Ontario.

TTC is Canada’s largest and North America’s third largest transit operator.

“This is an important milestone for the city, for the province and for BYD and we can’t wait for Torontonians to see what BYD’s combination of best-in-class technology, and Canadian know-how can deliver for their city,” BYD Canada Vice President Ted Dowling said.

“We know of course that this moment, this kind of innovation, doesn’t just happen – it takes leadership and real champions at the table to make it work. On behalf BYD, I’d like to thank Mayor John Tory, Minister Catherine McKenna, TTC Chair Jaye Robinson and CEO Rick Leary and of course Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong for their strong commitment to a clean, green future for Toronto, and their investment in good, Canadian jobs to get it done.”

This is a significant a milestone for BYD, as these ten buses are the first to hit the road from BYD’s 45,000-square-foot assembly facility in Newmarket, Ontario; the first new electric bus plant to open in the province in a generation. The assembly of these buses created 30 jobs and are the first buses built in Ontario since Orion closed its plant in 2012.

“Beyond the jobs they create, these ten buses delivered to Toronto will help remove nearly 8400 metric tonnes of GHG from the atmosphere over their lifetime –just imagine what we could do with more. We’re proud to be a partner in helping make Toronto’s vision of an emissions free transit system– and we look forward to continuing this wonderful partnership for many years to come,” continued Dowling.

The Toronto Transit Commission is one of several customers in Canada purchasing zero-emission, battery-electric BYD buses. This order represents a significant advance toward TTC’s goal of purchasing all emission-free buses beginning in 2025 and completing a fleet conversion by 2040. Each of these new buses will remove approximately 9 Metric tons of nitrogen oxides, 159 kilograms of diesel particulate matter, and approximately 1,530 Metric tons of CO₂ from the atmosphere over the 12-year lifecycle of the vehicle.

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 has grown in value almost twenty-fold.

© 2020 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway and BYD, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell a 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.