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Berkshire Hathaway: A $350 Billion Conglomerate

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Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B), with a market capitalization of more than $350 billion, is a holding company whose subsidiaries engage in diverse business activities across sectors. These are the major businesses in which its subsidiaries operate:

  • insurance and re-insurance
  • freight rail transportation
  • utilities and energy
  • finance
  • manufacturing
  • service and retail

The firm’s investments are made and managed primarily by its chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett, and by its vice chairman, Charles Munger.

Warren Buffett purchased Berkshire Hathaway in 1965. At that time, the firm was part of the textile business. Since then, the company has gone through several transformations and is now engaged in the buying and managing of businesses.

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Major businesses

Berkshire Hathaway owns major companies across sectors in and outside of the US. Here are some of its major subsidiaries:

  • GEICO – underwriting insurance and re-insurance company – the second-largest private passenger auto insurer in the United States
  • General Re and the Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group – two of the largest re-insurers in the world
  • Burlington Northern Santa Fe or BNSF – operater of one of the largest railroad systems in North America
  • Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company – BHE is an international energy holding company that owns a wide variety of operating companies engaged in the generation, transmission, and distribution of energy

Berkshire Hathaway competes with asset managers such as Blackstone (BX), BlackRock (BLK), Goldman Sachs (GS), and Morgan Stanley (MS).

Together these companies make up 5.93% of the Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLF).

Berkshire Hathaway also competes with insurance giants including Allianz (ALV), American International Group (AIG), Metlife (MET), and other major players from the energy, industrial, and infrastructure sectors that form part of the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV).

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