Buffet stockholders in dark on successor

first_imgOMAHA, Neb. – Thousands of faithful followers faced billionaire Warren Buffett on Saturday at the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. annual meeting, learning about the company’s latest acquisition but not getting much information about his chosen successor.Buffett mentioned in his annual letter to shareholders in March that the company board had chosen the person who eventually will succeed him, but the company has not said who that might be.During the six-hour gathering Buffett likes to call “Woodstock for capitalists,” vice chairman Charlie Munger said shareholders should have much more important things to worry about than whether the company will struggle after Buffett is gone.Munger told the crowd of about 24,000 people that Buffett has done such a great job of establishing the Berkshire’s culture that there shouldn’t be problems. Munger said he is in favor of the status quo.“Speaking for the Munger heirs, I would rather the current method of operation would continue to wring the last bit of good out of Warren,” Munger said.Berkshire owns a diverse mix of more than 60 companies, including insurance, reinsurance, carpet, jewelry, furniture, restaurants and utility firms. And it has major investments in such companies as H&R Block Inc., Anheuser-Busch Cos. and Coca-Cola Co.Shareholders who have grown to expect big gains from their investment in Berkshire were eager to hear more about its latest acquisition and about plans that Buffett might have for the $42.9 billion cash the company held at the end of the first quarter, on March 31.Berkshire said Friday it was acquiring an 80 percent stake in privately held Iscar Metalworking Cos., which makes metal cutting tools. Buffett said Saturday that Berkshire is paying $4 billion for its 80 percent.The Israeli company’s chairman, Eitan Wertheimer, told the crowd that the deal started with a letter he wrote to Buffett in October and was completed after officials from the companies met.“We had a very interesting lesson from Warren. We had an interesting lesson from Charlie,” Wertheimer said. “And we survived both of them.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinals“Do you really think he’s going to blow it when it comes time to pass it on?” Munger said.Buffett, who has given no indication he plans to step down, said no formal training for the successor is necessary because the three Berkshire executives who he’s said would be capable chief executives are already part of the company’s culture. They already understand the importance of integrity, character and treating shareholders like partners, he said.“The successors the board has in mind are very smart,” Buffett said. “They understand and have bought into the whole culture that we have.”Buffett rejected one suggestion that he consider stepping down as chief executive and remaining as chairman to ease the transition. He said the company doesn’t need an operations person because Berkshire’s company’s mostly run themselves.“We could have me do investments and an operating guy, but the truth is we don’t need an operating guy,” Buffett said.last_img read more