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05/02/2014

BNSF's Rose tells CNBC he's staying "intensely busy" in new role as executive chairman

Matthew Rose, the long-time CEO at BNSF Railway who was elevated to executive chairman in January, is in Omaha for this weekend's Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting. Which raises the question once again: Is he being considered to succeed Warren Buffett as Berkshire's CEO?

Interviewed this morning by CNBC host Becky Quick from the site of tomorrow's shareholders meeting, Rose deftly dodged that question, saying only that he is "staying intensely busy" on public policy issues and other BNSF issues including succession planning.

Matthew Rose"For 13 years, I was CEO and Carl (Ice) helped me. Now he's CEO and I'm helping him," Rose said. Rose is widely considered to be one of a handful of candidates Buffett has considered as Berkshire's next CEO. Berkshire acquired Fort Worth-based BNSF in 2010.

Regarding the railroad business, Rose said BNSF is working with regulators and others in the industry to design a next-generation tank car that can safely transport crude oil, following a series of fiery accidents involving oil trains that derailed. Another (a CSX train) occurred this week in Lynchburg, Va.

Rose said another solution could involve removing some gases from Bakken crude oil, which has been found to be more combustible than other crudes.

BNSF is now shipping 700,000 barrels of oil a day and Rose expects that business to continue to grow. He said it's critical for the country that the railroad industry resolve the safety issues because the new shale production offers the promise of helping the United States become energy independent.

"I really do believe it's the most significant thing we've seen in our lifetime," he said.

He also put in a plug for construction of the Keystone pipeline, saying that both pipelines and railroads will be needed to transport crude oil to refineries.

-- Steve Kaskovich 

 

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