Truck stops in flux: Pilot CEO switch, TA sale cleared

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With convenience store chain Pilot Travel Centers now majority owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the Warren Buffet-led conglomerate made its first significant moves by ousting two leaders of existing management and putting Berkshire executives in their place.
Adam Wright will become CEO of the company effective May 30. On the same day, Joe Lillo will become CFO.
That announcement came Monday. In the other big shift going on among the largest truck stop chains, TravelCenters of America (NASDAQ: TA) said Tuesday that the 30-day period mandated by federal antitrust law had passed without action by the Federal Trade Commission and that TA’s acquisition by BP (NYSE: BP) was cleared to close.
At Pilot, current CEO Shameek Konar and current CFO Kevin Wills will leave the company “after supporting the transition.” Konar had been in the top role since November 2020.
In a series of short videos sent to the company’s employees, James A. “Jimmy” Haslam III, a former CEO and a member of the founding Haslam family, interviews Wright about his role at Pilot.
“With Berkshire Hathaway coming on board, they have decided to make two changes,” Haslam says in one of the videos, stressing that there are “two changes only.”
“They want to put individuals in that they have worked with a long time,” he said. Haslam went on to describe an “excellent relationship” he has developed with Wright.
“If you like people, like having a lot of different things going on and you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, this is the perfect place for you,” Haslam tells Wright in one of the videos.
Wright’s move into the top spot at Pilot marks a return to Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A). He was most recently COO and executive vice president of operations at Pacific Gas & Electric (NYSE: PCG). But before that, he was at Berkshire-owned midstream company MidAmerican Energy Co., where he was president and CEO between 2018 and 2021, according to LinkedIn. He was at MidAmerican for nine years. MidAmerican is now known as Berkshire Hathaway Energy.
Wright first joined Berkshire Hathaway in 1996, according to a spokesman for Pilot.
Lillo was most recently vice president of finance at Northern Natural Gas, a Berkshire Hathaway company.
He also was a running back for the New York Giants, which signed him in 2001 as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Berkshire Hathaway is based in Omaha.
The announcement by TA about the passing of the 30 days under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act is significant because it means the FTC is not going to take action to block the transaction. It also is another signal that TA remains committed to being bought by BP and is rejecting the offer from convenience store operator Arko (NASDAQ: ARKO), which is more lucrative on a per share basis but which TA has rejected on several other financial grounds. BP bid $86 per share; Arko bid $92.
In its short announcement of the 30-day mark having been reached, TA said nothing about the Arko bid, which it has publicly rejected twice, the second time on April 3. A week earlier, in its proxy statement, TA rejected Arko without identifying it as the alternative bidder to BP.
The special shareholders meeting to approve the BP bid is May 10, the company said. It is expected to close May 15. Shareholders of record on March 23 may vote in the approval process.
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