Warren Buffett continues his whirlwind tour of Asia, and with him, Berkshire Hathaway’s reinsurance head, Ajit Jain.And Buffett said that if Jain wanted to become CEO, he could in a heartbeat: “the board of directors would probably put him in there in a minute,” Buffett told reporters.
But he preempted that with, “he loves what he does, he’s not looking to take my job.”
The thing is, Buffett is 80, and even though he regularly says he’s far off from retirement, Berkshire requires and has a succession plan in place.
Berkshire has four candidates in line for Buffett’s role, which would be split in two — CEO and head of investments — when he finally departs. The firm has never said who those four individuals are, but bets are on Jain, David Sokol. Greg Abel, Matt Rose, or new portfolio manager Todd Combs.
But Jain is Buffett’s man. From Bloomberg:
Ajit has probably made a lot more money for Berkshire Hathaway than I have. I really feel about him like I would a brother or a son.
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. 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.
Buffett once said that if he was sinking in a boat, to save Jain first.