Saturday, February 24

Berkshire Accuses Billionaire Haslam of Illicit Bonus Scheme to Inflate Pilot’s Profits

Berkshire Hathaway Inc, led by Warren Buffett, has accused billionaire Jimmy Haslam, former owner of Pilot Travel Centers, of orchestrating a clandestine plan to offer secret bonuses to senior executives. This plan aimed to boost short-term profits at the expense of long-term value, as alleged in a filing by Berkshire in Delaware Chancery Court on Tuesday.

Haslam, who retained a 20% stake in Pilot after selling a controlling interest, supposedly devised a scheme involving undisclosed bonuses to manipulate quarterly earnings, thereby inflating the company’s value and, consequently, his stake in the chain.

Berkshire claims Haslam clandestinely pledged substantial side payments to incentivize executives to focus on short-term profits, aiming to boost the value of his remaining 20% stake in the business. Allegations suggest that Haslam promised these bonuses from his personal funds in an elusive manner.

According to Berkshire, Haslam’s actions were covert and designed to influence Pilot’s 2023 profits, which determines the payout the company would receive upon selling its minority stake to Berkshire early next year. However, representatives for Haslam and Pilot have yet to respond to these allegations.

The legal battle between the two billionaires has escalated, with Haslam suing Berkshire over accounting changes that he claims will diminish the value of his holdings by a significant amount.

This controversy, entangled in a series of legal disputes and counterclaims, is slated for a hearing in January. Both parties are seeking resolution on valuation matters, as Berkshire seeks to prevent Pilot from leveraging 2023 earnings for the stake’s valuation.

The situation further complicates the valuation dispute between Berkshire and Haslam, creating uncertainties about the legitimacy of Pilot’s earnings and the credibility of decision-making within the company. The case underscores the intricate legal and financial intricacies surrounding billionaire-led corporate disputes.

This legal tussle between two influential figures in the corporate world reveals complex power struggles and disputes that are being closely watched by the industry.

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