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Berkshire, Transatlantic still in talks: source

Berkshire Hathaway Incorporated’s $3.25 billion offer for reinsurer Transatlantic Holdings Incorporated has expired but the two sides are still in talks over a deal, two sources familiar with the situation said.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the talks were ongoing even though Berkshire Chief Executive Warren Buffett told PBS talk-show host Charlie Rose late on Monday that the offer had expired.

In fact, Transatlantic officials and Ajit Jain, the head of Berkshire’s reinsurance business, were in talks on Monday, the sources said. The sources said it has been Jain driving Berkshire’s participation in the deal and that Buffett has thus far not been involved.

Berkshire made its $52-a-share offer on August 5, outbidding Transatlantic’s agreed partner Allied World Assurance Co Holdings Ltd (AWH.N) and hostile suitor Validus Holdings Ltd (VR.N).

“As Transatlantic announced Friday, the company has entered into a confidentiality agreement and discussions with National Indemnity,” a Transatlantic spokesman said, referring to the Berkshire unit.

Transatlantic and Allied agreed to an all-stock deal in June that is now worth $2.91 billion. A month later, Validus made its unsolicited cash-and-stock offer, which it took directly to shareholders after it could not come to a confidentiality agreement with Transatlantic.

That offer is now worth $2.98 billion.

In the meantime the transaction has become highly contentious. Transatlantic and Validus have sued each other, and Transatlantic has been sued by some shareholders.

Its largest shareholder has also said publicly it may oppose the Allied World offer, which was originally at a sharp discount to Transatlantic’s book value.


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