Billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. on Wednesday filed documents for a $1 billion debt offering with proceeds to retire existing debt due this year.
The company, in a regulatory filing, said it plans to offer $750 million in senior notes due 2040 and $250 million in floating rate senior notes due 2012.
The notes will be senior unsecured indebtedness of Berkshire Hathaway Finance Corp. and will rank equally with all its other existing and future senior unsecured indebtedness, the filing said.
The company said as of Sept. 30, Berkshire Hathaway Finance Corp. had no secured indebtedness and $12.1 billion of debt.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. had $169 million of debt and its subsidiaries had $37.8 billion of debt.
Shares fell $177.99 to $99,532 per share in afternoon trading.
Moody's Investors Service assigned an Aa2 rating to the notes. The rating denotes high quality.
Moody's said the rating outlook for Berkshire and the finance corporation is "Stable."
Moody's analysts said the ratings reflect the company's strong market presence in its principal insurance operations, the diversification of its earnings, and its exceptionally strong balance sheet.
The analysts noted potential earnings and capital volatility in the insurance operations, especially given large and concentrated stock investments as well as large individual underwriting transactions.
Berkshire insurance holdings include Geico Auto Insurance, General Re Corp. and United States Liability Insurance Group.
In addition, Moody's said several of Berkshire's non-insurance businesses face earnings pressure from the U.S. economic slowdown.
Berkshire's diverse holdings include Fruit of the Loom, The Pampered Chef and See's Candies.
Moody's analysts also said Berkshire's planned acquisition of the remaining 77.4 percent of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. would enhance earnings and cash flow and further diversify the company's portfolio of owned businesses.
The deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of this year, will reduce Berkshire's financial flexibility in the short term, since most of the $26.3 billion deal is a cash transaction, Moody's said.
"The stable rating outlook incorporates our view that Berkshire will maintain a large cash balance and a conservative financial profile, consistent with its long-standing practice," Moody's analyst Bruce Ballentine said in a statement.
(This version CORRECTS Corrects $250M notes due 2012 sted 2010; ADDS Moody's rating on notes; UPDATES share price)
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