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MailTribune.com
  • Berkshire Hathaway sale of White City shortline railroad imminent

    Deal was to close last week, but no announcement so far
  • Sale of the White City Terminal Union Railway shortline is imminent.
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  • Sale of the White City Terminal Union Railway shortline is imminent.
    Billionaire Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway firm has told the Transportation Department's Surface Transportation Board that it will close the deal with a new owner this month.
    In a letter to the Surface Transportation Board, a lawyer for BNSF, formerly the Burlington Northern Sante Fe, Railway Co. said the deal was to close sometime last week.
    No transaction has yet been posted on the agency's website.
    The STB reviews rail mergers, purchases, construction and rate disputes. Before the BNSF acquisition in 2010, Berkshire sold its 9.6 million shares of Union Pacific Corp. and 1.9 million shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. to avoid problems with regulators.
    However, it overlooked its WCTU holdings and one other smaller line. The agency gave Berkshire a Dec. 31 deadline to finish the divestiture.
    Berkshire subsidiary Marmon Transportation Services received three offers for the 12-mile line but decided to go with one from outside of the industry. The buyer has not been named.
    "The entity that has been selected is neither a rail carrier nor does the entity own or control another rail carrier," wrote Roger Nobler, BNSF executive vice president for law and its corporate secretary.
    WCTU is owned by Railserve Inc., part of the industrial conglomerate Marmon Holdings Inc., which has been under Berkshire control since 2008.
    The railway has two employees and two locomotives. It generates about $250,000 in revenue annually.
    The shortline came into existence in 1954 after the dozen miles of line were abandoned by Southern Pacific. It ties into the Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad line near Central Point.
    Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email business@mailtribune.com.
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