Even though Warren Buffet is among the wealthiest individuals on planet Earth, he has to both recognize and respect the power the US government wields. Berkshire Hathaway Inc (NYSE: BRK.A) recently announced that it was doing away with its plans of acquiring a natural gas pipeline, which had a $1.7 billion price tag, because of antitrust issues.
Oil Giant Dominion Energy had already sold gas transmission assets to an energy subsidiary of Berkshires in November last year. However, Dominion Energy canceled its plan to sell Questar Pipelines to Berkshire Hathaway because of all the ongoing uncertainty linked with getting Federal Trade Commission clearance. Questar Pipelines operates mainly in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. So the FTC might have been concerned about overlap with PacifiCorp (Berkshire’s energy subsidiary), which has ownership of Rocky Mountain Power’s energy company that serves people in Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah.
In November, when the agreement’s initial parts were finalized, Dominion Energy said Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway had already paid it a cash amount of roughly $1.3 billion in anticipation of making the full payment in the near future. Dominion Energy further stated that it had plans to settle Questar’s debt of $430 million to Berkshire Hathaway once the deal was finalized. Now that the sale has been scrapped, Dominion Energy said that it’d start trying to make a deal with another bidder. It added that it hopes to have finalized the deal before, or on, the last month of the year.
The decision to scrap this sale agreement comes days after the US President signed an executive order designed to scrutinize mergers even more, including deals that have already been concluded and the introduction of more measures that’ll help promote healthy competition in the economy. The cancellation of these deals isn’t a major blow to Berkshire Hathaway, a giant corporation that owns the likes of Duracell, Dairy Queen, and Geico. Its energy subsidiary alone recorded sales of $4.8 billion in Q1 of 2021.