Buffett and Berkshire's 94-year-old Vice Chairman Charlie Munger will retain their positions on the board, which is expanding to 14 members from 12. Speculation had centered on Abel and Jain as possibilities. Mr. Buffett added that he remained in good health and enjoyed working, so the promotions shouldn't suggest larger management changes soon.
Responding to an analyst report that predicted Buffett could run Berkshire for the next 10 years, the Oracle of Omaha said that sounds a bit long without getting anymore specific. "They both have Berkshire in their blood". Yet Buffett says Abel and Jain are the right choices as potential successors. "They are the two key figures at Berkshire...this would've made sense five years ago, too".
Although he said he couldn't blame a CEO for wanting to be paid market value, if the new boss chose to go that route, the company would likely "pay them a very modest amount and then have an option, which increased in striking price annually". Jain joined the Berkshire Hathaway Insurance Group in 1986 and now serves as executive vice president of National Indemnity Company with overall responsibility for leading Berkshire's reinsurance operations. Meanwhile, Jain, who's now executive vice president of National Indemnity, will be vice chairman of insurance operations. He now serves as executive vice president of National Indemnity Co. The move is seen as positioning either Abel or Jain to eventually take over running the firm. Buffett's primary role as CEO is to decide where to invest Berkshire's cash - either in its own companies, acquisitions or outside investments - and manage the executives who lead the subsidiaries.