When Warren Buffett steps down from leading Berkshire Hathaway, his lieutenant Greg Abel will take the helm, the billionaire investor confirmed Monday, ending years of speculation over his succession plans.
"The directors are in agreement that if something were to happen to me tonight, it would be Greg who'd take over tomorrow morning," Buffett told CNBC.
Buffett's confirmation followed Berkshire's annual meeting over the weekend, where executives fielded a host of questions about the volatility of the stock market and the conglomerate's future. In response to a question about whether Berkshire could become too complex to manage, Berkshire did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Buffett had previously remarked that the company's decentralized makeup relied on the right culture. And Berkshire's Vice Chairman Charlie Munger explained that Abel, 59, who currently oversees the company's non-insurance operations, would carry on that spirit.
In 2018, Buffett appointed Abel as vice chairman, a move seen by market observers as a setup for a possible succession. Buffett had previously told shareholders that the company aims to install chief executives who are internal candidates and well known to the board.
Berkshire has touted Abel's management experience and his successful track record running the company's energy business. Before his promotion as vice chair of non-insurance operations in 2018, Abel served as chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Energy from 2008 to 2018. He joined the company in 1992.
Shareholders have closely watched for hints of Buffett's plans and for what direction the company would take if and when the 90-year-old chairman steps down.
Based in Omaha, Neb., Berkshire Hathaway sits on more than $145 billion in cash and short-term investments. It owns more than 90 companies spanning an array of industries, including railroad, furniture and jewelry businesses. The holding company claims major stakes in corporate giants Apple, Kraft Heinz, and Bank of America.