What's going on?
Warren Buffett’s been comparing the markets: his conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway announced on Monday that it’s agreed to buy insurance company Alleghany for $11.6 billion.
What does this mean?
Buffett’s been searching for Berkshire Hathaway’s next big investment for a while now, and said just last month that he was having a hard time finding it. But it looks like perseverance paid off: Berkshire announced on Monday that it’s agreed to buy fellow conglomerate Alleghany – whose core business is property and casualty insurance – for $11.6 billion in cash, 29% more than the company was worth on average over the past 30 days.
The deal – Berkshire’s biggest since 2016 – isn’t its first move into insurance. The company owns plenty of firms – like Geico, one of America’s biggest car insurers – in the space, and the industry’s already played a big role in growing Berkshire into the conglomerate it is today, boasting a market value of more than $750 billion.
Why should I care?
The bigger picture: Talk about cash to splash.
$11.6 billion sure sounds like a ludicrous amount of money, but it counts for less than 10% of Berkshire’s nearly $150 billion in cash. So even after making one of its five biggest deals ever and pledging to keep $30 billion in cash last month, Berkshire still has about $100 billion left that it could splash on even bigger deals in the future.
Zooming out: Software’s looking good.
Berkshire isn’t the only one making deals this week: private equity (PE) firm Thoma Bravo announced it’s buying Anaplan – a company that provides forecasting software to businesses – for $10.7 billion. The deal’s the latest in a bunch of PE takeovers in the software sector, including that of cyber security company McAfee last year. Some reckon it could be a sign that market volatility and higher costs of borrowing haven’t put firms off the industry, so more deals could be on their way this year.