Calif. governor wants Berkshire to bid for bankrupt PG&E

Source: By Mark Chediak and Michael B. Marois, Bloomberg • Posted: Monday, October 28, 2019

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) wants Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway to make a takeover bid for bankrupt utility giant PG&E Corp.

If Berkshire is interested in buying the San Francisco-based power and natural gas company, now is the time to make an offer, Newsom said Saturday.

“We would love to see that interest materialize, and in a more proactive, public effort,” he said in an interview. “That would be encouraging to see. They are one of the few that are in a position to make a significant run at this.”

Newsom made the remarks following a media briefing in Napa County, just east of a wildfire that has burned more than 25,000 acres, destroyed at least 49 structures and triggered a historic evacuation of tens of thousands of people. PG&E disclosed earlier this week that one of its transmission lines went down minutes before the blaze broke out.

The company’s equipment has already been tied to a series of deadly blazes that devastated California in 2017 and 2018, saddling it with an estimated $30 billion in liabilities and forcing it into bankruptcy.

Berkshire has been raised as a possible suitor since PG&E’s collapse, but the most vocal group seeking to take control of the utility is a collection of creditors led by Pacific Investment Management Co. and activist investor Elliott Management Corp. Newsom said Saturday that he’d like to see more than just hedge funds vying for the company and has been talking to mayors of cities including San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland about possible bids.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy Co. didn’t immediately respond to telephone and emailed requests for comment left outside of business hours.

Newsom didn’t say whether he has discussed a bid with Berkshire. “We’re having a lot of conversations with a lot of people,” he said. “My hope is that those that are interested really step up those efforts because we are running out of time.”