NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of
will be in the spotlight after billionaire investor Warren Buffett said the company has identified his successor as CEO as well as two backup candidates.
Buffett refrained from naming the candidate but said the company's board was enthusiastic about the choice. It is not clear if the announcement will be enough to abate concerns about who will succeed the wizard of Omaha.
Berkshire's book value grew by 4.6% in 2011, beating the S&P 500. Buffett said the book value still understates the intrinsic value of the company. Shares of Berkshire Hathaway have underperformed over the past two years.
The company also remains on the prowl for large acquisitions, Buffett said.
The legendary investor also defended his investments in
Bank of America
"The banking industry is back on its feet, and Wells Fargo is prospering," Buffett wrote. "At Bank of America, some huge mistakes were made by prior management. Brian Moynihan has made excellent progress in cleaning these up, though the completion of that process will take a number of years."
While his outlook for the economy was upbeat, he said he had been wrong about his call on housing last year, when he said it would turnaround in a year or so. Still, he said that it was only a matter of time before the problem of excess supply is solved, as household creation continues.
executive Manuel Medina-Mora became the latest to criticize the Volcker rule, which seeks to ban banks from making speculative bets with their own capital.
The rule has come under attack from international governments because it exempts U.S. sovereign debt but not other sovereign debt.
Medina-Mora said the rule will have an adverse impact on liquidity, as non-sovereign debt is used for liquidity and asset liability management by all banks all over the world. ""Implementation of the rule as it is today will have an impact on monetary policy around the world," he said at the Institute of International Finance.
On Friday, a SEC commissioner also called for a redraft of the Volcker rule.
"There is a considerable risk that as proposed, the regulatory infrastructure to implement the Volcker rule could unduly impede the competitiveness... of our financial markets and hinder the flow of capital," said Republican SEC Commissioner Troy Paredes during a speech at the Practising Law Institute's annual SEC Speaks conference.
The comment period for the draft rules ended on Feb.13. The rules are intended to be implemented in July although some expect the deadline to be pushed out given the objections to the rules in their current form.
Europe's biggest bank,
, reported fourth quarter net income of $21.9 billion, which is a 15% increase over the same period last year.
The bank saw a "record year" in its commercial banking segment, with pre-tax profit of $7.9 billon which was an an increase of 31% of 2010. HSBC added its fastes growing markets -- including Asia, Latin America and MENA --saw a 2011 revenue increase of 12% and now account for 49% HSBC's total revenue
"We recorded a strong performance in faster-growing markets and had a record year in commercial banking," said HSBC Group Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver in a statement. "I am pleased with our progress but there is a lot more to do and we remain focused on delivering our targets."
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