At Saturday's annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting, the 82-year-old CEO Warren Buffett announced that he knows who his successor is, but he's not ready to share the secret with the rest of us just yet. The annual junket that draws around 35,000 people to Omaha, Nebraska every year to hear arguably the greatest investor in the world sit down and dole out wisdom with his partner-in-crime Charlie Munger.
The Berkshire board is "solidly in agreement" on who his successor will be, according to Buffett. "The key is preserving a culture and having a successor, a CEO that will have more brains, more energy, more passion for it than even I have," he said. It's not all that surprising the board reached a harmonious consensus. It's hard to argue against the guy who led Berkshire Hathaway to become the fifth biggest publicly traded company in the world. Hathaway's operating income rose 32 percent last year, to about $3.78 billion.
As to who that successor may be, well, we don't really know yet. The leading candidates among people who read these kind of tea leaves are investment insurance chief Ajit Jain, railway head Matthew Rose, MidAmerican CEO Greg Abel and investment managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler.
Last year, Buffett and Munger made waves for revealing they would not invest in Facebook's IPO when it finally debuted the following summer. (In retrospect, that was a pretty genius decision.) Last year Buffett said he knew who his successor was, but this year's statement is one of the most solid promises the company has made about the potential succession plan. Buffett may be made of teflon financially, but his health is declining and he can't do this forever. (Unless he's invested in the fountain of youth, which, don't count that out.)
Buffett and Munger are currently taking questions from the crowd as we speak. If you're so inclined, Reuters and The New York Times' Dealbook are both running very good liveblogs so you can follow along. Buffett and Munger were asked about the CEO's decision to join Twitter recently. Buffett seemed bemused, while Munger said he was avoiding it "like the plague." The two were also asked about Bitcoins, the online currency that's driving financial writers mad. "Of our $49 billion, we haven't moved any to bitcoin," Buffett said. "The truth is I don't know anything about it."