Berkshire Hathaway on Wednesday promoted two of its top executives, Gregory Abel and Ajit Jain, adding them to its board and cementing their status as the front-runners to succeed Warren Buffett atop the US company, Reuters reports.
Abel, 55, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, was named Berkshire’s vice chairman for non-insurance business operations, while Jain, 66, Berkshire’s top insurance executive, was named vice chairman for insurance operations.
Buffett, 87, remains chairman and CEO of the roughly US$500 billion conglomerate he has run since 1965. Charlie Munger, 94, who has worked at Buffett’s side for more than four decades, remains vice chairman.
Both Buffett and Munger will continue handling major capital allocation and investment decisions, including acquisitions, for Berkshire, though they have reduced their responsibilities in recent years with their increasing age, the report said.
In an interview on CNBC, Buffett called Abel’s and Jain’s new roles “part of the movement toward succession” at Berkshire.
“They are the two key figures at Berkshire” and “have Berkshire in their blood,” he said.
Many investors view Abel as the favorite to become CEO, citing his age and experience in acquisitions and operations.
Buffett dismissed the idea of a horse race between Abel and Jain for the top job.
“They know each other well, they like each other well, they both have their areas of specialty,” he said. Berkshire’s board will grow to 14 members from 12 with the addition of Abel and Jain.
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.
While Buffett has no plans to quit soon, when asked how long he expected to remain at the helm, he said: “Ten years would be a long time.”
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