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Who will succeed Buffett: Ajit Jain or Greg Abel?

business Updated: Mar 01, 2015 22:27 IST
Yashwant Raj
Berkshire Hathaway

Berkshire Hathaway vice-chairman Charles Munger reignited the great succession debate at the US-based group, hinting on Saturday it could be India-born Ajit Jain or Greg Abel.

Speaking of the company’s prospects, Munger said it would continue to do well even if chairman Warren Buffett were to leave and succeeded by someone of “moderate ability”.

However, Munger wrote in Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report that “Buffett’s successors would not be “of only moderate ability”.

“For instance, 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,” he said. “In some important ways, each is a better business executive than Buffett.”

Buffett’s succession has dominated discussions about the company for years even though its iconic chairman has shown few signs of slowing down or leaving soon.

The company has said there is a succession plan in place, but refused to give out details. It’s not going to be anyone from the Buffett family for sure, according to Berkshire.

Buffett himself has spoken on the issue without giving details. After listing out the qualities needed in a good CEO, he said: “My successor will need one other particular strength: the ability to fight off the ABCs of business decay, which are arrogance, bureaucracy and complacency”.

His eldest son Howard Buffett, a philanthropist, will be non-executive chairman, without pay or a role in the running of the accompany, as a “safety valve”.

Jain, 63, has long been considered a favourite for his leadership of the group’s re-insurance business, which, Munger said, Jain “created out of nothing”.

Abel, a decade younger, heads Berkshire Hathaway Energy, who joined the group in 2000.