Pilot, Haslam finances questioned

Pilot, Haslam finances questioned

Posted:

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Reports in at least two media outlets are questioning the finances of Pilot Flying J and the company's CEO Jimmy Haslam.

The Wall Street Journal last week reported that Pilot had $4 billion of debt and noted that it had been downgraded by two credit rating services - Moody's and Standard & Poor's.

Reportedly a large portion of that debt was issued to pay Haslam, who then purchased the Cleveland Browns NFL franchise.

Quoting those reports, the Cleveland Plain Dealer sports columnist Terry Pluto questioned how Haslam can be the long-term owner of the Browns.

Pluto points to Haslam selling his stake in the Tennessee Smokies as having raised some cash for the CEO.

The credit agencies noted that federal investigators are looking into claims of fraud in Pilot's rebate program for large diesel purchases.

Five Pilot employees have pleaded guilty in federal court since the April raid at Pilot's West Knoxville headquarters.

Company spokesman Tom Ingram released this statement on Pilot:

"Pilot Flying J's business and financial positions are very strong. As I stated in the Wall Street Journal article, there are inaccuracies in the rating agencies' numbers, but as a private company, Pilot Flying J is not going to elaborate."

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