Written by Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) – Warren Buffett ended years of speculation about his succession to Berkshire Hathaway by commenting that Greg Appel, who oversees the non-insurance business, would become CEO if he were no longer in charge.
“The directors agree that if something happens to me tonight, Gregg will be the one to take charge tomorrow morning,” Buffett told CNBC. The 90-year-old billionaire investor has not publicly indicated any plan to quit.
Abel, 58, has been vice president of Berkshire since 2018, after converting his Berkshire Hathaway Energy unit into a major energy provider in the United States. Many analysts and investors saw the CEO from Edmonton, Canada, as the likely successor to Buffett.
Berkshire did not respond to requests for comment.
Ajette Jane, 69, the vice president who oversees the insurance business in Berkshire, was also considered a candidate, but Buffett told CNBC that Abel’s relative youth “makes a real difference.”
Buffett’s decision may have been enforced after Vice President Charlie Munger, 97, told the Berkshire Annual Meeting that the company’s decentralized business model was important and that “Gregg will preserve the culture.” No mention of Jane.
“I suspect Buffett revealed this reluctantly,” said Jim Shanahan, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co., although “Abel’s coronation wasn’t exactly a surprise.”
Buffett transformed Berkshire from a decaying textile company in 1965 to a $ 628 billion conglomerate with companies such as Geico Auto Insurance, the BNSF Railroad, several industrial companies, and Dairy Queen’s ice cream.
Buffett’s eldest son Howard is expected to become a non-executive president. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and John McCrank in New York; by Nikit Nishant in Bengaluru, edited in Spanish by Javier Lopez de Lerrida)