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Indian-origin Ajit Jain to succeed Warren Buffet?

Last Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 - 10:30

New York: Without disclosing the chosen one's identity, Warren Buffett on Saturday said Berkshire Hathaway has identified his successor and showered praise on his Indian-origin associate Ajit Jain, one of the candidates speculated to take over from the billionaire investor.

The revelation about succession plans came Saturday in Buffet's -- the chairman of sprawling conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway -- annual letter to shareholders.

In indications that his identified successor would be from the group itself, Buffett said Berkshire Hathaway's board has had a "great deal of exposure" to the chosen person.

The name of Jain, who controls the group's major reinsurance business, and few others, has been doing the rounds as potential successors to Buffett.

"Your Board is equally enthusiastic about my successor as CEO, an individual to whom they have had a great deal of exposure and whose managerial and human qualities they admire. (We have two superb back-up candidates as well)," Buffett said in his 22-page annual letter.

According to Buffett, the succession would be "seamless" and Berkshire's prospects will remain bright.

However, the billionaire investor reiterated that he and his long-time business partner Charlie Munger are not going anywhere immediately.

"... we continue to be in excellent health, and we love what we do," he noted.

Buffett's comments about succession comes probably for the first time after David Sokol, who was tipped to takeover the reins of Berkshire Hathaway, quit last year amid controversy over an investment decision.

Meanwhile, the billionaire investor said that Jain has added a great many billions of dollars to the value of Berkshire Hathaway.

"From a standing start in 1985, Ajit has created an insurance business with float of USD 34 billion and significant underwriting profits, a feat that no CEO of any other insurer has come close to matching," Buffett said.

Berkshire Hathaway is a holding company of subsidiaries that have interests in property and casualty insurance and reinsurance, freight rail transportation, utilities and energy, among others.

Jain never exposes Berkshire Hathaway to risks that are inappropriate in relation to its resources, Buffett said.

"Ajit insures risks that no one else has the desire or the capital to take on. His operation combines capacity, speed, decisiveness and most importantly, brains in a manner that is unique in the insurance business," Buffett said.

Berkshire Hathaway saw its profit slump 21 percent to USD 10.25 billion last year from USD 12.97 billion in 2010. In 2011, the entity had revenues of USD 143.69 billion.


First Published: Sunday, February 26, 2012 - 10:30
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