New name for real estate company now under Buffett umbrella

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One of the largest residential real estate brokers is now carrying the name of the company headed by billionaire investor  Warren Buffett.

As announced  last summer, Prudential Fox and Roach was acquired by  Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, a national roll-up of real estate  brokers  purchased by the investment company controlled by Buffett. The conversion became effective this week.

Berkshire owns or has a sizable interest in  a host of large and mid-sized companies ranging from the BNSF railway to GEICO insurance and  Fruit of the Loom underwear.

The majestic-sounding  name Berkshire Hathaway comes from a textile company purchased by the Omaha investor that became the vehicle used   to acquire majority and minority stakes in companies, perhaps the best known being Coca-Cola. Thanks to Buffet’s investment prowess, the Berkshire brand was cited as one of the most trusted, according to an advertisement from the real estate company.

Berkshire Hathaway has gone on to become  a major force in corporate America and helped the banking system emerge from the financial crisis through stock investments and other moves. That power has worried some regulators concerned about banks now being “too big to fail” and in need of restructuring.

It marks one of the first times Berkshire has changed the names of acquired companies. In the case of companies like Prudential Fox and Roach, Berkshire Hathaway did not want a name that referred to the Prudential companies and wanted to forge a national identity for the real estate companies  it now owns.

The real estate company will retain its top management in keeping with Berkshire’s strategy of acquiring what it sees as well-managed companies.

The  Prudential name came out of a franchise system that at one time was owned by Prudential, a life  insurance giant.

The name change comes as Virginia-based Long & Foster seeks to take the top ranking among residential real estate firms in Delaware.

Home Services is believed to rank No. 2 in the northern Delaware market. It is the largest brokerage firm in the Philadelphia region. – Doug Rainey

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