Carson Perspective: Buffetted, but not buffeted, Nevadans ponder prospects

Buffeted by tough economic news in recent years, Nevadans enjoyed a business-related headline of late that was a doozy with a different and upbeat twist.

At mid-week the Silver State got a big-time boost on the world’s business stage by being Buffetted rather than buffeted. It was like a belated Warren Buffett valentine.

The Oracle of Omaha, as Buffett is called, will acquire through his conglomerate the Nevada electric/gas utility NV Energy. It will become one of his many business firms when the deal is finalized among his Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. and NVE.

The transaction cost is about $5.7 billion in cash, plus the assumption of $4.4 billion in NVE debt. That’s mega-bucks to most of us, but the cash part is some 12.75 percent of the amount available to Buffett. The deal took only a slice of the $44 billion in cash Berkshire had available, according to the Omaha World-Herald, another Buffett holding.

NVE becomes part of a MidAmerican energy empire and will swell assets of the Iowa-based Berkshire energy subsidiary to $66 billion. Berkshire dwarfs MidAmerican in size; the parent has a market capitalization exceeding $260 billion, owns multiple businesses and has considerable numbers of shares of other major firms.

Among other huge companies in the Berkshire stable are GEICO Insurance and the BNSF Railroad. Berkshire also has stakes in Coca-Cola and Wells Fargo Bank.

Buffett lauded NVE management, a hallmark of Berkshire deals, in a comment that was echoed by MidAmerican’s chairman, president and CEO. MidAmerican’s Greg Abel also joined Buffett in praising prospects for NVE and Nevada. Abel put it this way:

“They’ve got a very good management team. They have excellent regulated assets, and we view Nevada as an excellent place for investment long term.”

Meanwhile, over the shorter term in Nevada’s capital city, the normal work of keeping the community moving forward has Carson City’s Board of Supervisors grappling with more mundane but not insignificant matters for locals and other Silver State residents.

The board this week has an agenda item asking supervisors to authorize the city manager and Parks and Recreation department director to establish a temporary committee aimed at exploring the feasibility of Carson City hosting a state fair-style event. The board also will be asked to approve accepting a couple of grants totaling more than $1.5 million — not a difficult decision.

As usual, the board begins deliberations at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in the Sierra Room of the Community Center.


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