Legendary investor Warren Buffett is betting big on travel centers with his latest deal.
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is making a two-phase investment in Pilot Travel Centers, operators of Pilot Flying J, the largest travel center company in the U.S. By 2023, Omaha-based Berkshire will be Pilot Flying J’s majority owner. The companies announced the deal Oct. 3.
Pilot Flying J stores offer a full line of prepared food items under the PJ Fresh Marketplace banner.
The current owners of Pilot Flying J, the Haslam family, will continue to own a majority of the Knoxville, Tennessee-based company until 2023, and current CEO Jimmy Haslam, president Ken Parent and other managers will retain their positions.
Initially, the Haslam family will own 50.1 percent of the company and Berkshire 38.6 percent. In 2023, Berkshire will buy an additional 41.4 percent, making it the majority owner. The Haslam family will retain 20 percent ownership and remain involved in the company.
The deal will expand Pilot Flying J’s growth opportunities, according to the company. Pilot Flying J has 750 locations across the U.S. and Canada and more than $20 billion in revenues.
“Given the impeccable reputation of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, and our shared vision and values, we decided this was an ideal opportunity,” Jimmy Haslam says. “As a family business that has evolved and prospered over the last six decades, we knew that any potential partner would need to share our commitment and have a proven track record as a long-term investor.”
Buffett says Pilot Flying J has a long tradition of excellence and “an unrivaled commitment to serving North America’s drivers.”
“Jimmy Haslam and his team have created an industry leader and a key enabler of the nation’s economy,” he says. “The company has a smart growth strategy in place and we look forward to a partnership that supports the trucking industry for years to come.”