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At Berkshire Annual Meeting, Only Greg Abel Will Appear With Buffett

At Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting only Greg Abel will appear with Warren Buffett, prompting speculation that Abel will succeed the legendary investor as CEO.
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Analysts trying to discern who will succeed Warren Buffett as chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway undefined often resemble the Kremlinologists of the 1970s, who would examine things like Politburo seating charts to see which officials were in favor.

In Buffett’s case, analysts may make something of the fact that among company directors, only Greg Abel, vice chairman of Berkshire’s non-insurance operations, will accompany Buffett, 89, in person at the annual meeting next month.

Abel and Ajit Jain, vice chairman of Berkshire’s insurance operations, are seen as the two contenders to takeover Buffett’s spot when he decides to leave or if he dies in office.

Berkshire said in a statement Monday that it would be just Buffett and Abel. The company said last month that it would hold a virtual annual meeting in response to the coronavirus epidemic.

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And in his annual letter to shareholders in February, Buffett had said that both Abel and Jain would enjoy a lot of airtime at the meeting.

Buffett and Abel will take questions from shareholders Saturday but won’t discuss politics or the company’s investment holdings.

In the past, Berkshire’s “Woodstock for Capitalists” has drawn thousands of shareholders. Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, 96, who usually has a prominent role in the meetings, also will be absent.

At last check, Berkshire Class B shares traded at $188.75, up 1.2%.

Their return has lagged the Morningstar U.S. Market Index over the past one-, three-, 10- and 15-year periods. That index covers 97% of total U.S. stock capitalization.