May 6 (UPI) — Warren Buffett provided a glimpse into what the future of Berkshire Hathaway may look like, allowing his two potential successors to answer questions at the company’s annual meeting.
Buffett, 88, ceded the floor to Ajit Jain, vice president of the investment firm’s insurance operations, to answer questions about the riskiest types of insurance investments on Saturday, while Greg Abel — Berkshire’s vice chairman of non insurance operations — fielded a question about the spending needs of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.
After a shareholder asked if Jain and Abel might join the Oracle of Omaha — as Buffett is often called due to his history of astute investments — on stage to answer questions more regularly in the future, Buffett hinted at the possibility of a larger role for his successors.
“That’s probably a pretty good idea,” he said.
Jain and Abel were promoted to vice chairmen last year and one will take over the role of CEO from Buffett in the future.
Buffett and Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger also sought to assure shareholders about the future of the company when leadership eventually changes.
“I don’t know whether we’ll outperform the S&P 500 or not. I know we’ll behave with our shareholders’ money exactly as we would behave with our own money,” Buffett said. “You cannot have two better operating managers than Greg and Ajit.”
Berkshire said Saturday that it reported a first-quarter net earnings of $21.66 billion, up from a loss of $1.14 billion during the same period last year and that operating earnings rose to $5.56 billion from $5.29 billion the previous year.
The company also bought back $1.7 billion of its own shares in the first quarter and Buffett said it could repurchase $100 billion over time.
“I predict we will get more liberal in repurchasing shares,” said Munger.