RAILROADED

Fast Time for Buffett's Biggest Deal

The ride to Berkshire Hathaway's ownership of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. started on Oct 22, when Berkshire's chairman Warren Buffett met with Burlington CEO Matthew Rose at the Ashton Hotel in Fort Worth, Texas following a company board meeting. Rose says that the day after the "relatively short conversation," the two men "fired up the process," with the CEO taking the $100-a-share offer to his board. That weekend, Rose hired Goldman Sachs to analyze the bid, bringing in Evercore Partners Inc. to assist, since Berkshire has a substantial stake in Goldman. Over the next week, Buffett and Rose hammered out the details, and the Burlington board approved the sale on Monday in Detroit. The same evening, Berkshire's board approved the deal, and Buffett announced it Tuesday morning. The $100-a-share deal gives Berkshire the remaining 77.4 percent of Burlington stock not already owned by the holding company at a total value of about $44 billion.