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.

Pampered Chef Launching Subscription Service Focussed on Seasonings

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To meet the needs of home cooks looking to simplify mealtime, while still packing in plenty of inspiration and flavor, Berkshire Hathaway’s Pampered Chef has launched TasteBuds, a monthly seasoning kit subscription offering. Pre-orders are available now, with deliveries beginning Oct. 1 in the U.S. and Canada.

TasteBuds delivers a surprise to consumers’ doorsteps each month, including:

• Flavor: Three pre-portioned packets of Pampered Chef’s most-loved non-GMO and gluten-free, seasonings and blends; ¼ cup each and enough for 2-4 recipes. TasteBuds was designed to encompass existing and beloved offerings from Pampered Chef’s pantry products along with brand-new flavors, so consumers can buy more of what they love most.
• Inspiration: Three exclusive recipes highlighting the month’s theme and seasonings; recipes are customizable with suggested “change-ups” to fit different family dietary needs and palates, such as vegetarian and gluten-free options. Subscribers also receive tips to use leftover seasonings in snacks, sides, desserts and drinks.
• Community: Subscriber-only access to the TasteBuds online portal, which features additional recipe support, timesaving tips, video content and more to build even more confidence in the kitchen.
“We know that consumers are spending more time in their kitchen and endlessly scrolling through recipes just to end up serving the same chicken dinner they make every day; we designed TasteBuds with that struggle in mind,” said

Terry Haley, chief marketing officer for Pampered Chef. “TasteBuds delivers new flavors and easy-to-follow cooking methods, spicing up that go-to chicken dinner and getting families out of a cooking rut with fresh, inspired recipe ideas. With this, our community of consultants and consumers can enhance and simplify their everyday cooking to ensure they aren’t sacrificing the quality time they crave with loved ones at dinner time.”

TasteBuds is available in three subscription types: month-to-month ($24/Can$34); three-month, pre-paid quarterly ($20/Can$28.50 per month); and six-month, prepaid semi-annually ($18/Can$25.50 per month). Shipping is free and services are flexible if customers choose to adjust quantity, duration or wish to pause/cancel their subscription before their renewal date (the date the original order was placed). Customers must place their order by the 16th of the month to receive the current month’s theme and package.

TasteBuds is available now for pre-order at pamperedchef.com/tastebuds or through a Pampered Chef consultant.

© 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.

BYD Receives E-Bus Purchasing Contract for California

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Chinese battery and vehicle manufacturer BYD was selected by the State of California to be a supplier of motor coaches, giving customers the convenience and competitive pricing of a pre-established contract.

Under the purchasing contract, entities can buy three BYD models: the K10M 45-foot low-floor coach and the C9M 40-foot high-floor coach; and the C10M 45-foot high-floor coach.

BYD’s buses are assembled at its plant in Lancaster, California.

The statewide purchasing contract was created to assist transit agencies meet the California Air Resources Board’s Innovative Clean Transit regulation, which requires that all public transit agencies transition to zero-emission buses, with all new bus purchases to be zero-emission by 2029 and the goal of complete fleet transition by 2040. There are over 200 public transit agencies in California operating more than 14,000 transit buses.

The statewide contract will also be available to governmental entities outside of California.

“This is a big win for transit agencies and operators throughout the United States,” said Patrick Duan, Vice President of BYD North America. “By leveraging California’s purchasing contract, transit agencies benefit from the convenience of an existing contract and competitive pricing. BYD will supply its zero emission U.S-made coaches to California and America with pride.”

BYD had a net profit of 1.66 billion yuan (roughly 242 million U.S. dollars) for the first half of 2020. The net profit rose 14.29 percent over the same period in 2019.

BYD is the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles.

BYD and Berkshire Hathaway

In 2008, Berkshire Hathaway bet on BYD’s potential, purchasing 225 million shares. It is an investment that has paid off handsomely, as 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 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.

Berkadia Acquires LIHTC Advisors Brokerage

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Berkadia, Berkshire Hathaway’s joint venture with Jefferies Financial Group, has acquired LIHTC Advisors, an Idaho-based brokerage firm dedicated to providing full-service solutions for apartment investors and focusing on Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and other affordable housing properties.

Leading this team will be Jeff Irish and Brandon Grisham, former principals with LIHTC Advisors who, prior to joining Berkadia, have been involved in the sale of over $2 billion of affordable housing assets throughout the country.

The addition of LIHTC Advisors will broaden Berkadia Affordable’s market presence and support long-term strategic growth under the leadership of David Leopold, SVP and Head of Berkadia Affordable.

Irish and Grisham have been in the affordable housing brokerage business for a combined 19 years representing both general and limited partners. In 2019, they closed 53 transactions—and expect to exceed that in 2020.

“This is a huge step forward in Berkadia’s goal of expanding our affordable housing team, another investment in this critical space,” said Berkadia CEO Justin Wheeler. “Jeff, Brandon and their team bring a long and successful record of providing excellent advisory and client service—what Berkadia is known for in this asset class and in our industry.”

This investment advances Berkadia’s strategic growth initiative in the affordable business. David Leopold joined as SVP and Head of Berkadia Affordable in 2019. Leopold leads the strategy of Berkadia Affordable’s Mortgage Banking, Investment Sales and recently integrated Tax Credit Syndication teams, which together deliver comprehensive capital and advisory services to support the growth of Berkadia’s affordable housing clients.

“We are thrilled to be adding such skilled affordable experts to further our goal to be the largest and most respected provider of capital and advisory services for affordable housing in the country,” said Leopold. “Jeff, Brandon and their entire team bring our suite of services and market presence to a new level, partnering with our clients to maximize the value and impact of their investments.”

“Joining the Berkadia team was an easy choice—our values of hard work, integrity and passion align with theirs, along with the promise to deliver exceptional client service,” said Grisham. Joining Irish and Grisham on the move is a team of brokers and technical experts dedicated to providing best in class analysis, marketing and sales execution.

In 2019, Berkadia’s loan origination volume was $27 billion, while its investment sales platform totaled $9 billion.

About Berkadia

Founded in 2009 as a 50/50 joint venture between Berkshire Hathaway and Leucadia National Corporation (now known as Jefferies Financial Group), Berkadia is a third-party commercial mortgage servicer, as well as an approved lender for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD/FHA.

The company is among the top Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae multifamily lenders.

Berkadia owes its origins to GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corporation, which was acquired in 2009 by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Five Mile Capital Partners LLC, and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners. Christened Capmark Financial, the company had $10 billion of originations in 2008 and a servicing portfolio of more than $360 billion before running into bankruptcy in October 2009.

In a deal approved by the bankruptcy court, Capmark sold its mortgage loan and servicing to the newly formed Berkadia in a deal worth $515 million.

The deal brought Berkshire into the heart of the commercial loan serving business, and the company has one of the largest commercial real estate servicing portfolios.

© 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.