March 5, 2018 / 2:20 PM / 5 months ago

Berkshire adds Germany's Rubina, expanding global real estate presence

March 5 (Reuters) - A real estate company controlled by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc is broadening its global reach, announcing on Monday its first international franchisee, Berlin-based Rubina Real Estate GmbH.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices called Rubina an ideal fit for its network, which its parent said has more than 1,500 offices and in excess of 48,000 agents, and said it plans to add more franchisees in Europe, Asia and North America.

The business began its global expansion in 2016, including through a marketing agreement last April with Juwai.com, China's largest international property website.

Berkshire's HomeServices of America, the second-largest U.S. residential real estate brokerage, is the majority owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.

Rubina, led by co-founder Carstein Heinrich, will change its name in April to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Rubina Real Estate.

It will join many other Berkshire-owned companies to adopt the parent's name, reflecting the brand's and Buffett's cachet.

Berkshire has made other investments in Germany, including in 2015 when it bought motorcycle apparel and accessories retailer Detlev Louis Motorrad-Vertriebs, and in 2017 when its Precision Castparts unit bought piping company Wilhelm Schulz.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate's brands also include the BNSF railroad, Dairy Queen ice cream and Geico auto insurance.

Pre-tax profit at the real estate business fell 2 percent last year to $220 million, as higher operating costs offset rising revenue from acquisitions and higher home prices. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York: Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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