Is Warren Buffett Dropping Clues About Who Will Replace Him?

Warren Buffett said that the Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) board would support Ajit Jain as CEO should Jain decide to seek the job.

“He loves what he does, he’s not looking to take my job,” Buffett said yesterday at a news conference  in Bangalore. “If he was, the board of directors would probably put him in there in a minute.”

There has been much speculation over who would replace Buffett when it’s time. In the company’s annual shareholder letter, it said it has four candidates to succeed the legendary investor, but did not name them. In his annual letter last month, Buffett praised Jain, 59, David Sokol and Greg Abel, Burlington Northern CEO  Matt Rose, and Geico CEO Tony Nicely.

“Ajit has probably made a lot more money for Berkshire Hathaway than I have,” Buffett said when discussing Jain. “I really feel about him like I would a brother or a son.”

Berkshire has said the role of CEO, chairman, and head of investments will be split when Buffett is gone, either through retirement or death. Currently, Buffett holds all three jobs. Last year, investment manager Todd Combs was hired by Berkshire to help run the company’s portfolio.

Buffett went on to praise Jain, and the job he’s done at Berkshire. “He walked into the office, I think on a Saturday in 1985, and I knew I was looking at, and talking with, someone with incredible talent,” Buffett said. “Over a period of 25 or 26 years, he’s not only excelled at every single task he’s taken on in insurance, but he’s behaved in a way that’s been totally honorable, more than generous throughout that period.”


— Jonathan Chen

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