As Warren Buffett groupies gather for Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting, it’s time once again to speculate about the Oracle of Omaha’s successor. In his annual letter to shareholders earlier this year, Buffett said they should “bow deeply” if they get to meet Ajit Jain, Berkshire’s insurance investment point man, at the gathering. Is that because he could be next in line to take over at Berkshire?
It’s one of the questions likely to be raised this weekend. Last week, Berkshire hired four executives from the American International Group to report into a unit run by Jain. That could free him up to eventually take over for Buffett; Jain, 61 years old, has been at Berkshire for almost 30 years.
His letters to shareholders are often combed over for clues about who could succeed him. In addition to Jain, Buffett also praised the CEOs of Berkshire portfolio companies. He callsed Matthew Rose of Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Greg Abel of MidAmerican “two outstanding CEOS. And Buffett gave shout-outs to Berkshire investment managers, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, who are in their 40s and 50s.
But with the recent AIG hires, the buzz of late has been about Jain. We’ll see if Buffett gives any more clues tomorrow.