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Warren Buffett's Succession Plan Is Down to Two

13 January 2018

The conglomerate, with names as diverse as Dairy Queen ice-cream shops to Fruit of the Loom underwear to GEICO auto insurance, expanded its board to 14 members, with Berkshire energy chief Gregory Abel and Berkshire reinsurance president Ajit Jain filling the new slots.

He had been chief executive of its MidAmerican Energy Co subsidiary, which provides electric and natural gas service in four Midwest U.S. states, and BHE Renewables, which builds wind and solar farms.

Analysts immediately saw the move as positioning one or both of them as eventually succeeding Buffett at the top of the sprawling conglomerate which is now valued a $US505 billion. Buffett has recommended that Howard succeed him as chairman but not take an executive job at Berkshire.

Warren Buffett's main focus isn't delivering stock price gains for Berkshire's shareholders every year.

Mr Buffett's further comments on the appointments in his letter to shareholders will be closely watched for any hint of which of the duo are favoured to be the successor. After the announcement on Wednesday, they were up around 1% at $US306,819.

Although a hit rate of 70% would be so-so in many other walks of life, the feat has earned Buffett the moniker of "oracle" and near-religious admiration from investors around the world, given the difficulty of beating the market so consistently and comprehensively over such a long period of time.

For example, Berkshire's portfolio is very bank-heavy, with massive investments in Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and American Express, as well as smaller positions in Goldman Sachs, Bank of New York Mellon, among others.

"In terms of cryptocurrencies, generally, I can say with nearly certainty that they will come to a bad ending", the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway told CNBC in an interview.

Mr Buffett praised Mr Abel and Mr Jain, calling them "key figures" at the company.

The unit serves the central and western United States, Alberta, Canada and Britain, and operates HomeServices of America, the majority owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and one of the largest USA residential real estate brokerages.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK-B) now has a Return on Assets (ROA) value of 0 Percent.

Buffett has said Jain may be irreplaceable as head of Berkshire's insurance division, which makes up roughly half of Berkshire's businesses and generates billions of dollars to invest elsewhere.

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger will continue in their existing positions and will still be responsible for "significant capital allocation decisions and investment activities" for Berkshire, the company said. Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, the two investment managers that Berkshire hired in recent years, will be the chief stock pickers. Buffett and has overseen its.

Warren Buffett's Succession Plan Is Down to Two