Berkshire Hathaway Inc on Wednesday promoted two of its top executives, Gregory Abel and Ajit Jain, adding them to its board and cementing their status as the most likely successors to Warren Buffett atop the conglomerate
Jain, 66, Berkshire’s top insurance executive, was named vice chairman for insurance operations while Abel, 55, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, was named Berkshire’s vice chairman for non-insurance business operations.
Buffett, 87, will remain chairman and chief executive, and Charlie Munger, 94, who has worked at Buffett’s side for more than four decades, will keep his vice chairman post.Both will continue handling major capital allocation and investment decisions, including acquisitions, for Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire, which Buffett has run since 1965.
“It is probably fair to say it’s not just the Warren and Charlie show any more,” said David Rolfe, who oversees $5 billion of assets at Wedgewood Partners Inc in St. Louis, whose largest holding is Berkshire.
“Today’s news codifies the importance of Greg Abel and Ajit Jain to not just their current businesses, but their future authority once Buffett relinquishes the CEO title,” he added.
Ajit Jain, widely regarded as the architect of the success of the reinsurance side of Berkshire Hathaway’s business for many years.Jain joined the Berkshire Hathaway Insurance Group in 1986 and currently serves as executive vice president of National Indemnity Company with overall responsibility for leading Berkshire’s reinsurance operations.
In an interview on CNBC, Buffett called the changes “part of the movement toward succession over time,” saying Abel and Jain are “the two key figures” at Berkshire and “have Berkshire in their blood.”
Buffett, who first publicly raised the succession issue more than a decade ago, said he remained in “remarkably good health” and that his health was not a factor in making the announcement, but said “maybe six weeks ago, I just decided, ‘Why not now?'”
He declined to say how long he expected to remain at the helm but said: “Ten years would be a long time.”