Berkshire Hathaway investors worry about life after Buffett

OMAHA, Neb. — Thousands of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders return to Omaha every year to learn from Warren Buffett and celebrate the company he built through acquisitions and investments.

But with the 88-year-old Buffett and 95-year-old Charlie Munger leading the company, it’s hard for shareholders not to wonder how much longer the revered investors will be in place. Neither has any plans to retire.

Shareholder Stephen Teenois, 30, made the trip to Omaha this year after owning the stock for several years because he wanted to experience the event where Buffett and Munger spend hours answering questions.

“I just want to soak in everything I can and learn from him,” said Teenois, who is from Houston.

Buffett has said that Berkshire has a succession plan in place for whenever it is needed. Two longtime executives, Ajit Jain and Greg Abel, have been promoted to vice chairman to help oversee Berkshire’s businesses. One of them will likely eventually be Berkshire’s next CEO.

Buffett has said both Abel and Jain have done a great job since they were promoted into the new roles in early 2018, and both earned about $18 million last year. Jain oversees the conglomerate’s insurance businesses while Abel oversees non-insurance business operations.

Jim Weber, CEO of Berkshire company Brooks Running, said the transition from reporting directly to Buffett to reporting to Abel has gone smoothly.

“I’ve enjoyed working with him. He’s incredibly smart,” Weber said about Abel, who oversees all of Berkshire’s non-insurance businesses.

Abel had to spend time last year getting to know the businesses he now oversees. Berkshire’s eclectic collection of more than 90 businesses includes a variety of industries. Previously, Abel oversaw Berkshire utility businesses.

Bill Laub, 67, of Moline, Illinois, said he isn’t worried about Buffett’s successor and the future of the company because he has faith in the team behind him.

“If something happened to Warren, there would be the shock and the blip, and then it will all be over,” Laub said.

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