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Warren Buffett Discover, Sells Two Railway Companies

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted December 28, 2012

Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.B) looked into their Christmas stockings to find a couple of railroads they didn’t realize they owned. The company and its owner recently discovered that they owned the 12-mile-long WCTU railroad and the 6-mile-long CBEC railroad.

According to the Huffington Post, Berkshire Hathaway has since sold the two railroads ahead of schedule, satisfying regulators who might otherwise have had to go over Berkshire’s previous acquisition of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (NYSE: BNI) railroad in 2010.

Prior to acquiring BNSF, Berkshire Hathaway had also disposed of 9.6 million shares in Union Pacific Corp. (NYSE: UNP) and 1.9 million shares in Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE: NSC), also in order to avoid possible regulatory issues.

The WCTU railroad was sold to RVTR Rail Holdings in December, and the CBEC railroad was sold in November to its two other co-owners. Now that none of the Berkshire entities that bought the shorter lines owns any other railroads, the sales need not require Surface Transportation Board oversight.

Given how decentralized Berkshire Hathaway’s operations are, it is possible these railroads were simply overlooked due to their relatively insignificant size. Also, the top executives at Berkshire rarely intervene in the everyday operations of the company’s subsidiaries.

The company was down 0.33% on Friday morning.