Leucadia Annual Letter to shareholders below (see Leucadia Annual Letter from previous year here).
From Leucadia (NYSE:LUK)
One year ago, Leucadia and Jefferies combined to form a unique and powerful merchant and investment banking platform, a combination almost as old as commerce itself. Leucadia is distinguished by our ability to take a truly long-term view in a world often characterized by impatience and increasingly shorter investment horizons. A philosophy of patient and prudent risk-taking is one shared by the founders of Leucadia, as well as the two of us. With hard work and good luck, we intend to capitalize on our ample permanent capital and ability to invest for the long-term.
Since closing the Leucadia and Jefferies combination on March 1, 2013, Leucadia’s historic New York City and Salt Lake City deal and operations teams have been combined with our Jefferies Capital Partners’ private equity investment team to form a single group working with the two of us in the joint New York City headquarters of Leucadia and Jefferies to source, review and structure new investments and acquisitions. We and the combined team are also working with our existing subsidiaries and investee companies on strategic development and operational improvement. We are pleased that Justin Wheeler and Joe Orlando continue in their respective roles as
Leucadia’s COO and CFO, and are joined by Mike Sharp, our general counsel at Jefferies and now of both companies.
During the year, working with our Chairman, Joe Steinberg, we also consolidated and added to our Boards of Directors at Leucadia and Jefferies. We believe the recipe for consistent long-term value creation includes surrounding ourselves with highly experienced, able and committed directors, and working with them in an active and transparent manner, taking advantage of their knowledge, experience and relationships.
As we believe long-term interest rates have only one direction to go (up!), during 2013 we devoted ourselves to raising additional long-term capital across our businesses. With improved bond ratings at Leucadia, we raised $1 billion of ten and thirty year debt, which, in essence, pre-funded our near-term maturities. We also raised
$1 billion in long-term debt at Jefferies, $600 million at Jefferies Finance and $300 million at Jefferies LoanCore. Separately, National Beef’s credit facility was increased in size and extended in maturity. Leucadia is now investment-grade rated by two of the three rating agencies. We have committed to specific diversification and liquidity metrics that should allow us to continue our upward ratings momentum, and should not hamper our ability to deliver solid long-term results for our shareholders.
For the months leading up to the Leucadia and Jefferies combination and throughout this past year, a number of Leucadia’s subsidiaries and investments were sold where expectations for future value creation did not meet our return expectations. To this end, since mid-2012, Leucadia sold its interests in Mueller Industries, Inmet Mining (stock merger), Keen Energy and TeleBarbados, liquidated our remaining stock and royalty note in Fortescue Metals, agreed to sell Premier Entertainment, and agreed to swap certain of Leucadia’s real estate assets and cash to increase our ownership in HomeFed to 65%. These transactions generated well over $2 billion in cash and marketable securities. Regrettably, we shut down Sangart, which, despite a substantial investment over many years, failed to find a commercial partner. We have no current plans to sell any other of our existing businesses. We look forward to doing everything we can to assist them in compounding their successes in the years to come.
Leucadia currently holds around $3.1 billion in available liquidity at the parent company. With the anticipated monetization of Leucadia’s NOL’s through the pre-tax earnings of our existing businesses (which should offset approximately $1.1 billion in cash taxes), we will have substantial cash to invest in new opportunities over the next several years. While the strong capital markets and M&A environment make our task more difficult, we are pleased by the significant number of interesting opportunities that consistently find their way to us. That said, there are many stars that must align before we deploy capital, and we are keen to remain selective and opportunistic, and to stick to what we know.
Our Value Focus
Our vision of the combined company has Jefferies not only as our largest business unit, but also as the primary engine of Leucadia’s future. Our teams at Leucadia, Jefferies, and all our subsidiaries and affiliates have distinct and specific expertise in certain industries and businesses, true relationships, access to broad and unique deal flow, a global presence, and the ability to move quickly and decisively. As a first example, we recently had the opportunity to acquire a 13% stake in Harbinger Group for $158 million (18.6 million shares at $8.50). This transaction was led by Andrew Whittaker, a Vice Chairman of Jefferies who recently also was named a Vice Chairman of Leucadia, and is a classic example of how a unique relationship and extensive existing knowledge can lead to an appealing entry point in a public holding company at a price we find attractive.
Jefferies has a prominent and longstanding presence in investment banking and capital markets in the energy sector, and Jefferies Capital Partners has been investing in the U.S. oil and gas industry for over ten years. As a result of these relationships and with the oversight of George Hutchinson, who transitioned from Jefferies Capital Partners and heads our oil and gas investment effort, in the last few months we formed partnerships with two management teams to pursue opportunities in the U.S. oil and gas exploration and production business. As a first step, through Juneau Energy, which is led by one of these management teams, we recently funded an Oklahoma City-based operator to drill horizontal wells and acquire additional acreage in the core of a productive formation in northern Oklahoma.
We also continue to pursue two longstanding Leucadia projects, the gasification plants and the Oregon LNG export facility. In the last year, we made significant progress on all fronts, and the timeline and decision in respect of moving ahead should be determined in 2014. Having devoted over ten years to shepherding the development of Leucadia Energy, Tom Mara, 37 years with Leucadia, is leading our team to finalize all elements, including a fixed price construction contract, to build a gasification plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana. If completed, the plant will convert petroleum coke into clean energy products, primarily consisting of methanol and hydrogen, for sale to industrial customers under long-term contracts. Justin Wheeler continues to oversee our team pursuing the necessary state and federal permits to build an LNG export facility and pipeline in Warrenton, Oregon. We have submitted almost all of the necessary applications to the State of Oregon and have completed our application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Both these projects hold great promise for Leucadia and the world, but we caution that numerous obstacles must be overcome for either or both to be brought to fruition and a profitable result for Leucadia.
In 2013, we organized a new subsidiary, Leucadia Asset Management LLC (LAM), with a view to bringing together under one umbrella Jefferies’ strategic,