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Warren Buffett says Greg Abel will make Berkshire Hathaway investing decisions when he’s gone

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Warren Buffett says Greg Abel will make Berkshire Hathaway investing decisions when he's gone

OMAHA, Nebraska — Warren Buffett said Saturday his designated successor Greg Abel will have the final say on Berkshire Hathaway’s investing decisions when the Oracle of Omaha is no longer at the helm.

“I would leave the capital allocation to Greg and he understands businesses extremely well,” Buffett told an arena full of shareholders at Berkshire’s annual meeting. “If you understand businesses, you’ll understand common stocks.”

Abel, 61, became known as Buffett’s heir apparent in 2021 after Charlie Munger inadvertently made the revelation at the shareholder meeting. Abel has been overseeing a major portion of Berkshire’s sprawling empire, including energy, railroad and retail.

Buffett offered the clearest insight into his succession plan to date after years of speculation about the exact roles of Berkshire’s top executives after the eventual transition. The investing icon, who’s turning 94 in August, said his decision is influenced by how much Berkshire’s assets have grown.

“I used to think differently about how that would be handled, but I think that responsibility should be that of the CEO and whatever that CEO decides may be helpful,” Buffett said. “The sums have grown so large at Berkshire, and we do not want to try and have 200 people around that are managing a billion each. It just doesn’t work.”

Berkshire’s cash pile ballooned to nearly $189 billion at the end of March, while its gigantic equity portfolio has stocks worth a whopping $362 billion based on current market prices.

“I think what you’re handling the sums that we will have, you’ve got to think very strategically about how to do very big things,” Buffett added. “I think the responsibility ought to be entirely with Greg.”

While Buffett has made clear that Abel would be taking over the CEO job, there were still questions about who would control the Berkshire public stock portfolio, where Buffett has garnered a huge following by racking up huge returns through investments in the likes of Coca-Cola and Apple.

Berkshire investing managers, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, both former hedge fund managers, have helped Buffett manage a small portion of the stock  portfolio (about 10%) for about the last decade. There was speculation that they may take over that portion of the Berkshire CEO role when he is no longer able.

But it seems, based on Buffett’s latest comments, that Abel will have final decisions on all capital allocation — including stock picks.

“I think the chief executive should be somebody that can weigh buying businesses, buying stocks, doing all kinds of things that might come up at a time when nobody else is willing to move,” Buffett said.

Abel is known for his strong expertise in the energy industry. Berkshire acquired MidAmerican Energy in 1999 and Abel became CEO of the company in 2008, six years before it was renamed Berkshire Hathaway Energy in 2014.

Correction: Berkshire’s equity portfolio is worth $362 billion. A previous version misstated the figure.

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