WASHINGTON: Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway chairman & CEO, said there's no horse race to run between India-born top insurance executive Ajit Jain and Greg Abel, head of Berkshire's energy companies, as his possible successors.
"There's no jockeying position at all" between front-runners Jain, 63, and Abel, 52, and neither of them knows who will be Berkshire Hathaway's next CEO, Buffett said on CNBC on Monday.
"The board has talked about it at every meeting for I don't know how many years. We have a precise plan in mind," the 84-year-old Buffett said.
Jain and Abel, both long-time Berkshire Hathaway executives, were named as possible successors to Buffett in Vice Chairman Charlie Munger's annual letter to shareholders.
"When Charlie's letter came in, and he referenced Greg and Ajit, it was news to me that he was writing that. He's right, they're very, very, very good, each one of them," Buffett said.
Nevertheless, Buffett said in his annual letter to shareholders, which was released on Saturday, that he and the board have already agreed on who would carry the torch once his time comes.
"In certain important respects, this person will do a better job than I am doing," Buffett said in his letter.
Currently, Abel is the chairman, president and CEO of Iowa-based Berkshire Hathaway Energy, while Jain runs the company's reinsurance division.
Born in India, Jain has worked for the company since 1986. Educated at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and the Harvard Business School, Jain earlier worked for McKinsey & Co. and IBM.
"Ajit insures risks that no one else has the desire or the capital to take on," Buffett wrote in Berkshire's annual report.
"His operation combines capacity, speed, decisiveness and, most important, brains in a manner unique in the insurance business. Yet he never exposes Berkshire to risks that are inappropriate in relation to our resources."
In his letter, Munger described Abel and Jain as "proven performers who would probably be under-described as 'world-class'".
"'World-leading' would be the description I would choose," Munger said.
"In some important ways, each is a better business executive than Buffett."