Warren Buffett Answers Succession Question at Annual Meeting

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Succession plans at the $870 billion Berkshire Hathaway took center stage on Saturday as thousands of shareholders attended the firm’s annual meeting in Omaha.

Investors questioned 93-year-old Berkshire chairman Warren Buffett about what would change when Berkshire’s vice chairman Greg Abel, 61, who has been at the firm for 25 years, takes over as chief executive after Buffett. Abel was appointed Buffett’s successor in 2021.

Buffett said Abel is already “in charge of really everything except insurance” and has the “same feeling” as Buffett when it comes to “judging the attractiveness of businesses and making capital decisions and that sort of thing.”

Related: Warren Buffett’s Annual Letter Reveals the Secrets and Lessons Behind Berkshire Hathaway

Greg Abel, vice chairman of non-insurance operations at Berkshire Hathaway. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

For the first time, Buffett also indicated that he would want Abel to have control of the company’s $335.9 billion portfolio of investments as chief executive when the time comes.

“I think the responsibility ought to be entirely with Greg,” Buffet said, stating that though he “used to think differently about how the responsibility should be handled,” having “200 people around that are managing a billion each just doesn’t work.”

The previous plan communicated by Buffett was that after Abel became CEO, Berkshire investment managers Ted Weschler and Todd Combs would handle investments. Combs is also the CEO of Geico.

While addressing investment control at the meeting, Abel reassured shareholders that Berkshire’s investing principles “will continue to survive Warren.”

Related: Warren Buffett’s Charitable Donations Break $51 Billion After Latest Offering

Berkshire’s culture is “not going to change,” Abel said at the shareholder meeting.

Buffett has not said or indicated anything about stepping aside. This is his 60th shareholder meeting since he took over Berkshire in 1965 and the first since vice chairman Charlie Munger passed away in November at 99.

Buffett’s February annual letter was partially a tribute to Munger.

Berkshire’s first quarter results, released before the meeting, show that the company’s operating profits grew by 39% to a record $11.22 billion.

Related: ‘I’m Smarter Now…But Also Poorer’: Warren Buffett Says Berkshire Hathaway Ditched Its Entire Stake in Paramount at a Big Loss

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