Berkshire Hathaway vice-chair Charles Munger reignited the great succession debate at the behemoth hinting on Saturday it could be Indian-born Ajit Jain or Greg Abel.
Speaking of the company’s prospects, Munger said it would continue to do well even if Warren Buffet were to leave and be succeeded by someone of “moderate ability”.
But, Munger, who is Buffet’s right-hand man, wrote in Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report released Saturday morning “his 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.”
For emphasis, he threw in this: “In some important ways, each is a better business executive than Buffett.”
Buffet’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 has refused to give out details. It’s not going to be anyone from the Buffet family for sure. That it has said.
Buffet also spoke to the issue. But no names. After listing out some 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 Buffet, a philanthropist, will be non-executive chairman, without pay or a role in the running of the accompany, a “safety valve”.
Jain, 63, has long been considered a favourite for his leadership of the group’s immense re-insurance business, which, munger said, Jain “created out of nothing”.
Abel, who is a decade younger, heads Berkshire Hathaway Energy, joining the group in 2000 with a utility company it had acquired.