Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) will not be the same without Warren Buffett. The succession plan for the 80-year old Buffett seems to still be perhaps the biggest issue out there when it comes to investing in Berkshire Hathaway. It blows away the analysis of Buffett’s derivative wins and losses. Vanity Fair is probably not the first media outlet where we would expect to get at least some more details and hints on the Buffett succession plan. It was.
Vanity Fair elaborates on its website ahead of the February issue with the article, “Warren Buffett Speaks Candidly to Vanity Fair About Who Might Succeed Him at Berkshire Hathaway.”
The reason that the succession plan is so important is because Buffett is THE standout business leader at the company (and perhaps in America). Buffett even gave VF a peek at the draft of his annual shareholder letter due in March.
Four possible successors have been noted. David Sokol is one possibility as head of Berkshire’s utilities. Sokol’s replacement of Greg Abel has also been noted as has BNSF’s chief Matthew Rose. Another name, which we will go back to the last annual letter for praise, was reinsurance head Ajit Jain.
Our own coverage of the 2010 annual letter showed Warren Buffet saying of Jain, “If Charlie, I and Ajit are ever in a sinking boat – and you can only save one of us – swim to Ajit.” If that is not the world’s greatest praise, what is?
Berkshire Hathaway and the business community will one day be without Warren Buffett. When that will be is anyone’s guess.
As always, Buffett’s full holdings are here and we also gave a December target showing which Buffett stocks had the least implied upside ahead as well as the stocks he held with the most upside. Those lists will be updated and consolidated in the next week to address changes.
JON C. OGG