Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has agreed to make a "significant minority investment" in Pilot Travel Centers.

The conglomerate will acquire nearly 40 percent of the Tennessee-based truck stop operator.

Better known as Pilot Flying J, the company is the largest operator of travel centers in North America with 750 locations and more than $20 billion in revenues.

Berkshire will acquire a 38.6 percent equity stake in the travel center operator. The Haslam family will hold a majority interest with 50.1 percent ownership.

FJ Management, owned by the Maggelet family, will retain 11.3 percent ownership until 2023, when Berkshire will become the majority shareholder with an additional 41.4 percent stake to bring its total to 80 percent. When that happens, the Haslam family will retain 20 percent ownership in the company and remain involved, according to the release.

Jimmy Haslam will remain CEO at this point and the company's headquarters will remain in Knoxville.

"Jimmy Haslam and his team have created an industry leader and a key enabler of the nation's economy," Buffett, chairman, president and CEO of Berkshire, said in a release. "The Company has a smart growth strategy in place and we look forward to a partnership that supports the trucking industry for years to come."

Pilot Flying J and the Haslam family have created a legacy of giving and philanthropy across East Tennessee. A few of its philanthropic donations include $2.5 million dollars to fund a new neonatal intensive care unit at East Tennessee Children's Hospital, $15 million to expand the Lakeshore Park Facility, and $10 million for new synthetic turf fields for all 13 Knox County High Schools.

Haslam said he wanted to assure the community that Knoxville and East Tennessee will always be an important part of their family.

"I want everybody to understand that will always be the case," Haslam said. "We'll always remain intricately involved in this community, which has been so good to us."


This isn't the first time Buffett has invested in East Tennessee. In 2003, Berkshire acquired Maryville modular home manufacturer Clayton Homes for $1.7 billion.

CEO Kevin Clayton only had positive things to say about the buyout, adding that the companies own philanthropic efforts have continued to grow.

"The Haslam family, they've set a philanthropic legacy in this region that'll probably never be matched, and now being part of Berkshire will really enable them to probably grow that even more," Clayton said.

Hoy Grimm, managing partner of LeConte Wealth Management, said the deal will allow Pilot Flying J to expand with Berkshire Hathaway's billions in capital, but it will also allow the Haslam family to look at other options.

"They're going to be liquid, and they're going to have the opportunity for more philanthropic endeavors," Grimm said. "They'll be freed up even to pursue other business opportunities that they haven't been able to in the past."

Forbes magazine lists Berkshire Hathaway as the third largest company in the world with over $200 billion in annual sales.

The company holds a diverse list of well-known companies, including Dairy Queen, GEICO and Helzberg Diamonds.

At market close on Tuesday, each share of Class A Berkshire Hathaway stock was selling for $278,700.