What does this mean for Berkshire Hathaway?
We now have a good idea of who most likely will be in charge when current Chairman and Chief Executive Warren Buffett gives up the reins of the Omaha-based company he built into a $500 billion conglomerate.
Who are the two people named as likely successors?
They’re longtime Berkshire hands, heads of two of the company’s operating units: Ajit Jain, who runs the company’s insurance operations, and Greg Abel, who runs Berkshire Hathaway Energy. Both will become vice chairmen of the company, with Jain looking after the company’s insurance businesses and Abel looking after the company’s non-insurance businesses.
So does this mean Buffett is stepping down?
No. The 87-year-old Buffett said in a television interview Wednesday that he is excited as ever to get to work every day. He says his doctors have told him his health is fine; this is just about smart succession planning, he said. Buffett is one of the country’s oldest CEOs, and he runs one of the country’s largest companies — No. 2 on this year’s list of Fortune magazine’s 500 largest. Company watchers said the move makes sense, given those facts.
So who will get the nod?
Buffett says it’s not a “horse race” between the two men. One stock analyst who follows Berkshire said that when time comes for Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger — who is 94 — to be replaced, perhaps the two newly appointed vice chairmen could run the company in a similar way to the founder and his right-hand man, with one serving as CEO and the other serving as a strong vice chairman.
What do others think?
If the company’s stock is any indication, investors were happy with the announcement. Shares rose nearly 1.3 percent on a day when the broader market was down. Some investors have worried publicly that Buffett hadn’t declared who exactly would take his place. Things still could change, but for now, these two men are at the top of the list.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owns the Omaha World-Herald.