Berkshire Hathaway announced a first move towards naming a successor to long-time chief executive Warren Buffett as it added two top executives to its board of directors Wednesday.
The 87-year-old billionaire, who has been at the helm since 1970, described the move as ‘part of a movement towards succession’ in the leadership of the massive group that controls companies from freight rail and airlines to finance.
The conglomerate, with names as diverse as Dairy Queen ice cream shops to Fruit of the Loom underwear to GEICO car insurance, expanded its board to 14 members, with Berkshire energy chief Gregory Abel and Berkshire reinsurance president Ajit Jain filling the new slots.
Abel, 55,  also was named vice chairman for non-insurance and Jain, 66, was tapped as vice chairman of insurance operations.
Buffett downplayed talk of a contest between the two men.
‘There’s no horse race at all in these two folks. They know each other well. They like each other,’ he told CNBC.
‘They both have their areas of specialty,’ he said. ‘Those are two pretty different businesses and they’re roughly equal businesses.’
A widely admired figure because of his commitment to long-term investing and his folksy bearing, Buffett said he remained in ‘remarkably good health,’ but running the company for another 10 ‘would be a long time.’
‘Every time I see one of my doctors, I say ‘Just guarantee me the next five years,” Buffett said. ‘It’s sort of a running extension as I go along.’
His long-term deputy, vice chairman Charles Munger, is 94 and continues to play a major role in running the company.