Market Commentary

Haslam Family Concludes Pilot Travel Sale to Berkshire Hathaway

Jahanzeb Salam
17 Jan 2024 · 2 minutes read

On Tuesday, as announced by both parties, the Haslam family completed the sale of its remaining 20% ownership in Pilot Travel Centers to Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/B:US). The terms of the sale were not disclosed. 

Pilot Travel Centers is the largest operator of travel centers in North America, with over 750 locations under the Pilot and Flying J brands. Berkshire had previously acquired the majority stake in Pilot Travel Centers from the Haslams through separate transactions in 2017 and January 2023, amounting to $11 billion.

The sale follows the resolution of a billion-dollar lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court between the Haslams and Berkshire Hathaway. The lawsuit centered on an accounting method dispute, with the family contending it would artificially lower the sale price of their stake in Pilot Travel Centers.

Last year, the Haslams filed a lawsuit against Berkshire, accusing the conglomerate of employing pushdown accounting at Pilot Travel Centers without authorization. This accounting method could impact reported net income, potentially reducing the amount Berkshire would pay for the family's remaining stake if they chose to exercise their "put" option.

Jim Haslam II, in a statement, acknowledged the emotional aspect of the decision and stated that it was deemed right for the family at this time.

In December, reports surfaced about federal prosecutors in New York investigating Berkshire's claims that Jimmy Haslam III had offered payments to Pilot Travel Centers executives to boost the company's value for the family's benefit. The Haslams denied these claims, countering Berkshire's allegations regarding the younger Haslam, whose brother Bill Haslam is the former governor of Tennessee.

On a different note, Congressmen John Curtis and Ro Khanna divested shares in Berkshire Hathaway late last year. Mr. Khanna reduced his holdings in BRK.B stock on Nov 3, valuing up to $15,000, while Mr. Curtis sold shares on Dec 4, ranging between $1,000 and $15,000 at a closing price of $356.66.