Friday, April 30, 2010

One on One with Burlington Northern CEO Matthew Rose

GHARIB: Now that Burlington is part of Berkshire Hathaway, do you feel that you have more freedom to invest and expand? 
ROSE: We're in about month three now. And this month we're here today is typically our annual meeting month. It's typically our quarterly release month. Two things that I'm not doing. So it is a little different. And when we think about how that will translate into how we run this company again, I think all that will be very positive that we will be focused over a little bit longer term horizon than perhaps what is going on in a given quarter.

GHARIB: So do you have a wish list of projects that you just couldn't do as a public company but now seem possible.

ROSE: There is no doubt that Warren has been very clear he wants to us reinvest in the railroad. And if you think about, if you are a public company, in terms of generating free cash flow, you really have three different alternatives. Buy back your stock. Dividend out to your shareholders or reinvest in your company either your own company or through a strategic acquisition. We no longer can buy back our own stock because we don't have any so we're down to dividending (ph) up to Berkshire as the parent or reinvesting in our company. And I think Warren's made it clear that he wants to see us reinvest back in the railroad.

GHARIB: What is the key advantage of having Warren Buffett on your side?

ROSE: Well, first off he is a great thought leader. When we are looking for debate, discussion on how to finance our debt or just issues around strategic acquisitions, certainly being able to pick up the phone and call Warren Buffett is a tremendous advantage.