Given the above, we have reduced Leucadia’s leverage by calling $511.3 million of long term debt in 2012 and retiring other debt during the last three years in market transactions. With those steps, we have cut Leucadia’s leverage by over 40%. Borrowing money at 7% without a clear path to make 15%+ is not attractive and we don’t see many opportunities to make at least that return. This cautious approach was evident in the purchase of National Beef; although banks were beating down our door to lend us more money, we paid cash.
A world-wide recovery in the near future is not a foregone conclusion. Europe and the future of the Euro are far from settled. Growth in China is slowing and the risk of a “Chinese Spring” cannot be ruled out. Iran is a big problem. In an environment of slow growth at home and a dysfunctional government, we believe that less financial leverage is better. We expect many other companies and investors share this view. We emphasize that we are not pessimistic, just cautious. We are enthusiastic about the future of our broad array of operating businesses and investments and have our eyes open for additional acquisitions. Never fear, if a good deal comes along we will find a way.Continue Reading