Pilot & Berkshire Hathaway Settle Valuation Dispute

The agreement came one day before a trial was set to begin in Delaware.
Angela Hanson
Exterior of Pilot Travel Center in Rialto, California

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The family of Pilot Co. founder James Haslam II and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. are no longer headed to trial. The parties settled allegations of improper accounting methods that affected Berkshire's planned buyout of Pilot ahead of a Jan. 8 trial date.

A docket filing in Delaware Chancery Court stated that the trial, scheduled to be held before Judge Morgan Zurn in Wilmington, had been canceled, Bloomberg reported.

A Pilot spokesperson stated that "Pilot Corp., on behalf of the company and the Haslam family, is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement to fully settle the Delaware litigation between the company and Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Pilot Travel Centers LLC and National Indemnity Co., including the dismissal of all claims and counterclaims against each other." 

Detailed terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

[Read more: Pilot Co. Completes 100 Remodels Under New Horizons Initiative]

Berkshire first invested in Knoxville-based Pilot in 2017, taking a 38.6% equity stake in the company for $2.758 billion, and has since accumulated a majority share for an additional $8.2 billion, resulting in an 80% ownership stake. Jimmy Haslam and his extended family retain control of the remaining 20%.

The deal maintained an option for the Haslam family to sell its remaining stake to Berkshire on Jan. 1, 2024, with additional options to sell the shares yearly thereafter, as Convenience Store News previously reported. However, the Haslam family sued Berkshire in October 2023 for allegedly employing pushdown accounting rules that artificially depreciated the value of relevant assets and unfairly cut the value of both the Haslam shares and Pilot itself.

Berkshire countersued the following month, accusing Jimmy Haslam of attempting to bribe Pilot executives to inflate 2023 earnings.

The settlement could clear the way for Berkshire to acquire the remaining 20% stake in Pilot under the terms of the original deal. The company has not commented on the settlement.

The Pilot and Flying J travel center network includes more than 750 locations in 44 states and six Canadian provinces.

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