Though the billionaire investor has not announced any plans to step down, he acknowledged that he has a successor in mind.
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Although billionaire investor Warren Buffett hasn’t announced any plans to leave his post as CEO of Berkshire Hathaway anytime soon, he revealed who his most likely successor would be, according to CNBC.
Last Saturday, the multinational conglomerate holding company held its annual meeting, during which one person asked whether it would grow too big to manage at some point. In response, vice chairman Greg Munger attempted to ease concerns and said that fellow vice chairman Greg Abel would ensure that Berkshire’s culture would remain.
The answer appeared to suggest that the 59-year-old Abel, who runs all of the company’s non-insurance operations, would be the most probable successor should the 90-year-old Buffett decide to step down.
CNBC confirmed those speculations on Monday.
“The directors are in agreement that if something were to happen to me tonight, it would be Greg who’d take over tomorrow morning,” Buffett was quoted as saying.
In an interview with CNBC, Buffett lauded both Abel and 69-year-old vice chairman Ajit Jain — both of whom, alongside business executive David Sokol, were considered top candidates to replace Buffett. Jain currently oversees Berkshire’s insurance operations. Sokol previously ran what was then MidAmerican Energy (now called Berkshire Hathaway Energy) and NetJets for Berkshire. He resigned from the company in 2011 after Berkshire learned that he had bought a $10 million stake in chemical company Lubrizol just before encouraging Berkshire to buy it.
According to Reuters, Abel has been praised for his commitment to Berkshire’s culture and long-term thinking. The vice chairman graduated from the University of Alberta in 1984 and worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers and geothermal energy firm CalEnergy before joining MidAmerican Energy in 1992.
After Abel succeeded Sokol as head of MidAmerican in 2008, he went on to continue its growth by acquiring Nevada utility NV Energy and Alberta electric transmission company AltaLink. Abel also pushed to expand into renewable energy. He became vice chairman in 2018.
“Abel, of course, does not have the charisma, personality and reputation that Buffett built over decades, so he’s not going to have that magnetism that Buffett has,” David Kass, a professor of finance at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, told Bloomberg. “But he exudes extreme competence and success. He has a very successful track record at Berkshire and I don’t think shareholders can ask for anything more than that.”