Berkshire Hathaway to pay $896,000 penalty over USG investment


People sit outside a shuttered McDonald’s in Moscow on Wednesday. Russian officials ordered the temporary closure of four of the restaurants in the nation’s capital over sanitary violations. (Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters)
August 20
INVESTMENTS
Berkshire to pay $896,000 penalty

Warren E. Buffett’s company has agreed to an $896,000 penalty for failing to tell regulators beforehand about a December 2013 investment in wallboard maker USG.

The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that Berkshire Hathaway should have notified the Justice Department before it converted $325 million of senior USG notes it held into 21.4 million shares of the com­pany.

Because Berkshire was a significant USG shareholder, antitrust laws required it to notify regulators because of the size of the deal. At the end of June, Berkshire held just over 39 million USG shares.

Berkshire corrected its initial filing after the USG investment and clarified that it should have notified officials. But regulators said Berkshire made a similar mistake six months earlier when it acquired securities in Symetra Financial.

“Although we may not seek penalties for every inadvertent error, we will enforce the rules when the same party makes additional mistakes after promises of improved oversight,” said Deborah Feinstein, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition.

In a statement, Buffett described the matter as a simple mistake.

— Associated Press

COMPUTING
HP reports healthy quarter for PCs

Hewlett-Packard posted a surprise increase in quarterly revenue after sales from its personal computer division climbed 12 percent, but a flat-to-declining performance from its other units underscored the company’s uphill battle to revive growth.

HP sales rose to $27.6 billion in its fiscal third quarter from $27.2 billion a year earlier. Wall Street analysts, on average, had forecast a modest drop in revenue to $27.01 billion.

The Silicon Valley, Calif.-based giant is undergoing a major overhaul aimed at cutting costs and reorienting itself toward higher-margin businesses such as computing infrastructure.

Chief executive Meg Whitman credited PC demand for “coming back some” as consumers and corporations upgrade aging machines. She also was pleased with a 2 percent growth in revenue, to $6.9 billion, at the Enterprise Group, the company’s second-largest business that deals in networking, storage and servers for corporate clients.

“It’s a turnaround in a declining business,” Whitman said in an interview.

— Reuters

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