Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation (BNSF; NYSE:BNI) shareholders today voted overwhelmingly in favor of the company’s acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (Berkshire; NYSE: BRK.A, BRK.B), securing a path for BNSF Railway to continue to build upon its position as one of America’s premier freight transportation companies.
In all, preliminary results show that approximately 70 percent of BNSF issued and outstanding shares not owned by Berkshire or its affiliates were voted in favor of the transaction, above the 66-2/3 percent required. Additionally, holders of at least a majority of the issued and outstanding shares of BNSF voted in favor. Both of these votes were required under Delaware law to adopt the merger agreement and were reported at a shareholder meeting held today at BNSF headquarters in Fort Worth. Representatives of Innisfree M&A Incorporated tabulated the votes and acted as independent inspectors.
“Tomorrow begins the first century of ownership of BNSF by Berkshire Hathaway. I’m looking forward to every day of it as our railroad does its part to ensure the future prosperity of the country,” said Warren E. Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway chairman and chief executive officer.
“We are at an important milestone in our 160-year history,” said Matthew K. Rose, chairman, president and chief executive officer of BNSF. “This is a vote of confidence in BNSF and the future of freight rail, and it demonstrates how well our business model is aligned with our new parent company. By providing cost-effective and energy-efficient transportation that also benefits the environment, we are moving the goods that are crucial to consumers and our economy as our nation powers its way out of the recession.”
The merger is expected to close on February 12.
Over the long term, the nation’s demand for transportation is destined to grow. As the most environmentally friendly form of surface transportation, rail is more fuel-efficient for moving freight than using the nation’s crowded highways. If just 10 percent of the freight that currently moves by truck were diverted to rail, fuel savings would exceed 1 billion gallons per year and annual greenhouse gas emissions would fall by more than 12 million tons. And as the nation’s demand for transportation continues to increase, rail is an obvious solution to meet this challenge.