By Jonathan Stempel (Reuters) -Warren Buffett ended years of speculation about who would succeed him at Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE 🙂 Inc by saying Vice President Greg Abel would take over as CEO if he resigned. “The directors agree that if something happened to me tonight, it would be Greg who would take over tomorrow morning,” Buffett said, according to a CNBC report Monday. Buffett, 90, has never provided a timetable for his departure. Abel, 58, has overseen Berkshire’s non-insurance business since 2018, after turning his Berkshire Hathaway Energy unit into a major US energy provider. Many analysts and investors had seen the Edmonton native, Alberta, as Buffett’s most likely successor, and were committed to preserving Berkshire’s corporate culture. “Simple, low-key, very informed, but humble at the same time and also serious,” said Steve Haberstroh, partner at CastleKeep Investment Advisors in Westport, Connecticut. Ajit Jain, 69, a vice president overseeing Berkshire’s insurance businesses, was another chief executive candidate, but Buffett told CNBC that Abel’s relative youth “makes a real difference.” Buffett’s hand may have been forced after Vice President Charlie Munger, 97, slipped away at the Berkshire annual meeting on May 1 while discussing Berkshire’s decentralized business model that “Greg will keep the culture.” He didn’t mention Jain. “I suspect that Buffett revealed this reluctantly,” although “Abel’s coronation is not exactly a surprise,” said Jim Shanahan, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. Buffett has turned Berkshire in Omaha, Nebraska since 1965 into an empire of 628,000. million dollars with dozens of people. businesses like Geico auto insurance, the BNSF railroad, Dairy Queen ice cream and See’s Candies. Its stocks are performing well in 2021 but have lagged behind in the last decade, reflecting the size of Berkshire and Buffett’s struggle to roll out his current $ 145.4 billion cash pile. Succession has been a central issue since 2006 when Buffett, then 75, discussed it in his annual letter to shareholders. Buffett’s eldest son Howard is expected to become a non-executive chairman, while investment managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler are on the line of becoming chief investment officer. IT’S NEVER A SILENT THING While Abel lacks Buffett’s charisma and showmanship, he earned Buffett’s trust for his commitment to Berkshire culture, his long-term thinking, and his ability to spend money wisely. “Greg has a lot of experience dealing with regulators and making acquisitions, and a management track record of many people,” said James Armstrong, longtime Berkshire shareholder, president of Henry H. Armstrong Associates in Pittsburgh. Buffett called Abel “a first-class human being” in a 2013 video message. “There are a lot of smart people in this world, but some of them do very silly things,” Buffett said. “He’s a smart guy who will never do anything stupid.” A lifelong hockey fan, Abel graduated in 1984 from the University of Alberta. He worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers and the energy company CalEnergy before joining Berkshire Hathaway Energy, then known as MidAmerican Energy, in 1992, which Berkshire took over in 2000. Abel became the head of MidAmerican in 2008, replacing David Sokol, who many investors thought he was being groomed to replace Buffett and was given a broader role. Sokol resigned in 2011 after Berkshire learned that he had invested in Lubrizol while successfully persuading Buffett to buy the chemical company. Regulators took no action. Berkshire Hathaway Energy benefited from its ability, unusual in the utility industry, to retain profits rather than pay dividends. That freed Abel to buy Nevada utility NV Energy and Alberta power transmission company AltaLink while expanding into renewable energy. The unit also controls one of the largest residential real estate brokers in the United States. Despite appearances, Abel has let his hair down in public. In 2014, she accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Abel showed two thumbs up to a camera as he soaked himself in water.
Warren Buffett Says Greg Abel Would Become Berkshire CEO After His Departure -CNBC By Reuters