The acquisition is Warren Buffett’s biggest in four years, putting to use some of Berkshire’s $137 billion cash pile. There has been some investor anxiety lately about Mr. Buffett’s recent drought of deal-making. Buying the Dominion assets would more than double Berkshire’s market share of natural gas movement in the U.S., to 18 percent.
On the same day as the deal was announced, however, Dominion and its partners canceled plans to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Just last month, they had scored a victory when the Supreme Court ruled that the pipeline — which would have moved natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia and North Carolina — could be built under the Appalachian Trail, overruling objections from environmental groups.
In reversing course, the companies said that the six-year-old project faced more legal battles and costly delays that wouldn’t make it worthwhile. The shifting politics of fossil fuels, which may fall more out of favor if Democrats make gains in November elections, as polls currently suggest, could be another factor. In announcing the deal with Berkshire, Dominion emphasized a “narrowing” focus on becoming a more “sustainability focused” utility, reducing its reliance on fossil fuels.
Mr. Buffett appears to believe that the economic benefits of the deal overcome its political risks, argues today’s DealBook newsletter. And he hasn’t ignored the politics of pipelines in other situations. This spring, Berkshire backed away from an investment in a liquefied natural gas export terminal in Quebec amid protests by environmental activists and Indigenous groups. — Michael J. de la Merced
Here’s the business news to watch this week.
⚖️ The U.S. Supreme Court may issue rulings this week on eight cases, including the release of President Trump’s tax returns, birth control in employer-sponsored health care plans and robocalls to cellphones. The court’s extended virtual session has pushed its work into July for the first time in more than 20 years.
???? In his first foreign trip as Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador travels to Washington — on a commercial flight — to meet Mr. Trump at the White House on Wednesday. The two plan to celebrate the new North American trade deal, which took effect last week; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada hasn’t yet decided whether he will attend.
???? Speaking of Canada, on Wednesday the finance chiefs of Canada and Britain will discuss the impact of the coronavirus-driven downturn. In Ottawa, Finance Minister Bill Morneau will present the first official post-pandemic projection of Canada’s federal deficit to the country’s Parliament. In London, Britain’s chancellor, Rishi Sunak, will unveil the latest outlook for the British economy, along with potential policy changes to taxes and furlough payments.