Billionaire Warren Buffett lines up successors

Billionaire Warren Buffett lines up successors

Troy Powers
January 11, 2018

Jain joined in 1986 and now serves as Executive Vice President of National Indemnity Company with overall responsibility for leading Berkshire's reinsurance operations.

Berkshire Hathaway has promoted two long-serving executives as it contemplates a future without billionaire boss Warren Buffett.

He described Mr Abel and Mr Jain as having "Berkshire in their blood". "They are the two key figures at Berkshire...this would've made sense five years ago, too".

The companies are run in a decentralised fashion, but major investment decisions remain controlled by Mr Buffett and vice chairman Charlie Munger, 93.

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Berkshire Hathaway added Stamford executive Ajit Jain and another to its board of directors and elevated them to vice chairman under Warren Buffett, with analysts inferring the move as a signal of the investment giant's possible succession plans.

Berkshire has more than 90 operating units including the BNSF railroad, Geico auto insurance, the Dairy Queen ice cream chain, Fruit of the Loom underwear, See's sweets, and a variety of industrial and chemical operations. He said jokingly, "I wasn't much to start with".

"I get into enough trouble with things I think I know something about", Buffett explained. Meanwhile, Jain, who's now executive vice president of National Indemnity, will be vice chairman of insurance operations. "Why in the world should I take a long or short position on something I don't know anything about?"

In the CNBC interview, Buffett repeated that the board, whose members include Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates, can install a new CEO within a day when he steps down, dies or becomes incapacitated. Munger put forth the idea for Abel, Jain and himself to all have vice-chair titles, Buffett said.