PG&E Shares Pump, Then Dump, As Buffett Denies Buyout Rumors

Update: In a move that will give traders whiplash, PG&E shares have abruptly reversed earlier gains after Buffett reportedly denied the buyout rumors.


"That's 100% not true...and I would know," Buffett reportedly told CNBC.


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With two weeks to go until its annual meeting in Omaha, Berkshire Hathaway has apparently found a new deal to bring home to its shareholders.

Berkshire, which hasn't bought a company since 2015 and has been sitting on an enormous cash pile of $112 billion, is reportedly in talks to buy troubled California utility PG&E, which has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

The deal news will no doubt come as a shock to many. In this year's annual letter, Buffett wrote that "prices are sky-high for businesses possessing decent long-term prospects" and that he expected to buy more publicly traded stocks in 2019. "We continue, nevertheless, to hope for an elephant-sized acquisition."

PG&E shares rocketed higher on the news, and were trading up 25% in premarket trade.

Wednesday is already shaping up to be an interesting day for deal news.

PG&E shares have fallen by more than 50% since November, when speculation that its potential culpability for some of the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in California history both in 2018 and 2017 could lead to billions of dollars in legal judgments against the California utility. The company has reportedly been considering a bankruptcy filing - what would be its second in twenty years - to protect itself from some of the judgments.

The headline triggered a massive short-squeeze in PG&E shares. Buffett is fond of roughing up shorts, just like he did with his investment in troubled Canadian lender Home Capital back in 2017. Berkshire divested that stake late last year.