Iconic firm Berkshire Hathaway, run by value investor Warren Buffett along with his partner Charlie Munger, kept people guessing on the name of his successor in its latest annual letter to shareholders. India-born Ajit Jain, who is the head of reinsurance business, and Canadian Greg Abel – head of Berkshire’s energy company, who were already among the top contenders, found special mention in the second part of letter signed by Munger.
In the past Buffett had said that the board has chosen his successor and the name would be made public eventually.
Berkshire Hathaway’s vice-chairman Charlie Munger, who is now 91 years old, said: “Ajit Jain and Greg Abel are proven performers who would probably be under-described as “world-class.” “World-leading” would be the description I would choose. In some important ways, each is a better business executive than Buffett.”
Although, Buffett did name anyone as his possible successor in his letter, he strongly suggested that he or she is already working with Berkshire.
“My successor will need one other particular strength: the ability to fight off the ABCs of business decay, which are arrogance, bureaucracy and complacency,” Buffet added.
Jain, who has spent nearly three decades at Berkshire Hathaway, has long been considered a front-runner for the top job at Berkshire. He had joined Berkshire to build a reinsurance business at the company in 1986.
On the other side, Abel – the 52-year-old head of Berkshire Hathaway Energy – joined the conglomerate in 2000 with Berkshire’s $2 billion acquisitions of an Iowa-based utility called MidAmerican Energy. Since then, the business conglomerate has spent over $15 billion on acquisitions to augment the business.
Meanwhile, the company said that its fourth quarter earnings declined 17 per cent to $4.16 billion, though full-year profit rose 2 per cent to $19.9 billion.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)