Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Furthers Succession Plan -- 2nd Update

By Allison Prang and Erik HolmFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Warren Buffett has elevated two longtime Berkshire Hathaway Inc. executives to vice chairman roles at the company, all but confirming years of speculation that one of them is in line to replace him.

Berkshire said Wednesday that it is expanding its 12-member board of directors by two and naming Gregory Abel and Ajit Jain to fill the spots.

Continue Reading Below

Mr. Abel, chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Energy Co., also has been named vice chairman of the company's non-insurance business operations. Mr. Jain, Berkshire's most important insurance executive, has been named vice chairman of insurance operations.

Mr. Buffett, Berkshire's chairman and chief executive, will stay in his roles. So will Charlie Munger, Berkshire's existing vice chairman who has worked alongside Mr. Buffett for decades.

In an interview on CNBC, Mr. Buffett said the moves represent "a movement to succession over time" but declined to give further specifics on that timing. Mr. Buffett added that he remained in good health and enjoyed working, so the promotions shouldn't suggest larger management changes soon.

Messrs. Jain and Abel have long been considered by those that follow Berkshire to be the leading candidates to replace Mr. Buffett when he no longer leads the company. Mr. Munger dropped a hint that was the case in a letter to shareholders two years ago, but the company hasn't officially confirmed that they are in line for the top job.

Berkshire, which comprises about 60 businesses across multiple sectors, has been led by Mr. Buffett for more than 50 years.

During the company's annual meeting last year, Mr. Buffett suggested that whoever does ultimately step into his role will be responsible for spending the company's cash and that his successor could take the reins while Mr. Buffett is still alive.

Berkshire, which doesn't usually have much turnover in its top leaders, has had a number of executive changes at its different businesses.

Write to Allison Prang at allison.prang@wsj.com and Erik Holm at erik.holm@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 10, 2018 08:26 ET (13:26 GMT)