Berkshire Hathaway reports record profit

Buffett also said in his annual shareholder letter to “never bet against America.”

Warren Buffett Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK.A, BRK.B) fourth quarter profits rose, with its net earnings rising to $38.5B, or $23,015 a Class A share equivalent, up almost 23% from the previous year’s profit of $29.2B, or $17,909 a share.

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Operating earnings, which exclude some investment results, rose to $5 billion from $4.4 billion the year before.

Buffett also said in his annual shareholder letter to “never bet against America.”

“In its brief 232 years of existence… there has been no incubator for unleashing human potential like America,” he added.

“Despite some severe interruptions, our country’s economic progress has been breathtaking. Our unwavering conclusion: Never bet against America.” Buffett said the conglomerate owns the biggest amount of U.S. assets by value than any other company in the country.

Berkshire Hathaway also bought back a record amount of company stock last year. During the fourth quarter, the company bought back about $9B shares for a total 2020 repurchase of $24.7B.

Buffett said in his annual shareholder letter that repurchases have continued since year-end and “is likely to further reduce its share count in the future.”

“That action increased your ownership in all of Berkshire’s businesses by 5.2% without requiring you to so much as touch your wallet,” the letter reads.

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National General sold for $4 billion

Allstate to acquire National General for $34.50 per share, in cash

Allstate (ALL) has agreed to acquire National General (NGHC) for approximately $4B in cash, or $34.50 per share.

The companies said in a release, “The transaction is expected to close in early 2021, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

National General sold for $4B

National General provides a wide range of property-liability products through independent agents with a significant presence in non-standard auto insurance.

The company also has attractive Accident and Health and Lender-Placed Insurance businesses.

Gross premiums written were $5.6 billion, which generated operating income of $319 million in 2019.

National General shareholders will receive $32.00 per share in cash from Allstate, plus closing dividends expected to be $2.50 per share, providing $34.50 in total value per share.

Allstate will fund the share purchase by deploying $2.2 billion in combined cash resources and, subject to market conditions, issuing $1.5 billion of new senior debt.

Allstate expects to maintain its current share repurchase program.

National General’s board of directors has approved the transaction, which includes customary terms and conditions, including a breakup fee of $132.5 million.

A voting agreement has also been signed with entities controlling 40% of National General’s common shares to vote for the transaction.

MSD Capital, which owns approximately 7.4% of National General’s outstanding common shares, also supports the transaction.

NGHC closed at $20.41.

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FGL Holdings sold for $2.7B

FGL Holdings to be acquired by Fidelity National for $12.50 per share

FGL Holdings (FG) announced that the company has entered into a merger agreement pursuant to which Fidelity National Financial (FNF) will acquire F&G for $12.50 per share, representing an equity value of approximately $2.7B.

The transaction was approved by a Special Committee of F&G Directors, a Special Committee of FNF Directors and the FNF board.

FGL sold for $2.7 billion, Stockwinners

Under the terms of the merger agreement, holders of F&G’s ordinary shares (other than FNF and its subsidiaries) may elect to receive either $12.50 per share in cash or 0.2558 of a share of FNF common stock for each ordinary share of F&G they own.

FGL Holdings sells individual life insurance products and annuities in the United States. The company offers deferred annuities, including fixed indexed annuity contracts and fixed rate annuity contracts; immediate annuities; and life insurance products. It also provides reinsurance on asset intensive, long duration life, and annuity liabilities, such as fixed, deferred and payout annuities, long-term care, group long-term disability, and cash value life insurance. 

This is subject to an election and proration mechanism such that the aggregate consideration paid to such holders of F&G’s ordinary shares will consist of approximately 60% cash and 40% FNF common stock. Upon closing of the transaction, F&G shareholders will own approximately 7% of the outstanding shares of FNF common stock.

FNF pays $2.7B for FGL Holdings, Stockwinners

This represents a premium of 28% to F&G’s 60-day volume-weighted average price and a premium of 17% to F&G’s all-time high closing stock price following its combination with CF Corp. of $10.70 prior to February 6, when the media reported a potential transaction.

FNF currently owns 7.9% of F&G’s outstanding ordinary shares and all of F&G’s Series B Preferred shares, and, in connection with and immediately prior to the closing of the proposed acquisition, will acquire all outstanding F&G Series A preferred shares, with a face value of approximately $321 million as of December 31, 2019. Including the assumption of F&G’s $550 million of senior notes due 2025, FNF’s pro forma debt to total capital is expected to be approximately 26% at the close of the transaction.

The transaction is expected to close in the second or third quarter of 2020, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory clearances and approval by F&G shareholders.

Following the close of the transaction, F&G will operate as a subsidiary of FNF. F&G is expected to remain headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, and will continue to be led by Chris Blunt and F&G’s current management team.

The terms of the merger agreement provide that F&G will be permitted, with the assistance of its legal and financial advisors, to actively solicit alternative acquisition proposals from third parties during a 40-day “go-shop” period from the date of the merger agreement until Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

F&G may terminate the merger agreement to enter into a superior proposal with specified bidders identified in this period for a termination fee of $39.97M, subject to the terms and conditions of the merger agreement.

There is no guarantee that the “go-shop” process will result in any alternative acquisition proposal or that any alternative acquisition proposal will be identified at any time, or approved or completed.

F&G does not intend to disclose developments with respect to the “go-shop” process unless and until F&G’s Special Committee and/or F&G’s board makes a determination requiring further disclosure.

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Boston Omaha jumps on Buffett connection

Boston Omaha rises after WSJ profile highlights link to Buffett

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Boston Omaha jumps on Buffett connection

Shares of billboard advertisement seller and surety insurer Boston Omaha (BOMN) are rising following a Friday profile of the company in the Wall Street Journal.

SHARES DOUBLE SINCE LISTING

Shares of Boston Omaha, which is run by co-CEOs Alex Buffet Rozek and Adam Peterson, have more than doubled since listing on the Nasdaq Stock Market in June.

The company, which recently reported third quarter revenue of $2.4M, has a market capitalization of over $447M with today’s advance.

Rozek, who is Warren Buffett’s grandnephew, said the company receives no assistance from Buffett or Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) and does not advertise the link as he wants Boston Omaha’s results to stand on their own.

boston omaha shares jump on Buffett connection. Stockwinners.com
Boston Omaha shares jump on Buffett connection.

“It’s not like there’s this private class that goes on for family members about business,” Rozek said.

“If I wanted to learn, the best thing I could do is pick up an annual report and read the Berkshire annual report like anybody else.”

Buffett, who doesn’t own Boston Omaha stock, said, “I think the world of Alex, but we don’t have anything to do with his decision-making or anything of the sort. He’s got a good mind, a very good mind, and he certainly has good values.”

Boston Omaha, however has shown some similarities to Berkshire, including an acquisition focus on companies with consistent earnings and strong competitive positions, running acquired companies independently and skipping earning calls for an annual meeting.

The company, which does not currently invest in stocks, is 55% owned by Peterson’s Magnolia Group and 12% owned by Rozek’s Boulderado Group and other entities he manages.

PRICE ACTION

Boston Omaha is up 20.1%, or $5.69, to $34.02 in Tuesday’s trading. Including Friday’s advance, the stock is up over 33% over the last two sessions.


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Warranty Group sold for $2.5 billion

Assurant to acquire Warranty Group in $2.5B transaction

Warranty Group sold for $2.5 billion. See Stockwinners.com for details

Assurant (AIZ) and The Warranty Group, a leading global provider of protection plans and related programs, and a portfolio company of TPG Capital, announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement to combine operations, with Assurant shareholders retaining majority ownership of the combined company.

The transaction is valued at approximately $2.5B and is expected to close in the first half of 2018, subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions.

The transaction will significantly advance Assurant’s strategy in the global lifestyle market with an attractive product and client portfolio, diversified growth profile and a deeper global footprint.

With annualized revenue greater than $1B as of June 30, 2017, The Warranty Group will enhance Assurant’s scale and market presence in its vehicle protection, extended service contracts and financial services businesses across 35 countries.

The resulting geographic footprint also will provide resources to accelerate Assurant’s mobile strategy in key markets such as Asia-Pacific.

The Warranty Group’s U.S. vehicle protection business also brings new client partnerships and distribution channels including dealer networks and national accounts, and positions Assurant to capitalize on emerging trends in the auto market such as digital auto retailers.

The transaction values The Warranty Group at $1.9 billion in equity value, or $2.5 billion of enterprise value, including their existing debt.

Under the transaction agreement, Assurant, Inc. will become a wholly owned subsidiary of TWG Holdings Limited, whose name will be changed to Assurant Ltd. Assurant shareholders will own approximately 77 percent of the combined entity as existing Assurant, Inc. shares are converted into shares of Assurant Ltd. on a one-for-one basis.

TPG and its affiliates will own the remaining 23 percent, equal in value to 16 million Assurant shares, or approximately $1.5 billion at yesterday’s closing price. Assurant will also pay approximately $372 million in cash to TPG.

Upon closing, Assurant Ltd. shares will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol AIZ.

The senior management team of Assurant will lead the combined organization.

Assurant intends to finance the cash consideration and repayment of approximately $591 million of The Warranty Group’s existing debt through new debt, and preferred securities expected to be issued after closing.

Assurant has entered into a commitment letter for a $1.0 billion bridge facility. The transaction is expected to be modestly accretive to Assurant’s 2018 operating earnings per share on a run-rate basis.

By the end of 2019, Assurant expects to generate $60 million of pre-tax operating synergies by optimizing global operations.


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