Indian American Ajit Jain moves a step closer to succeed Warren Buffett

By |
Ajit Jain
Ajit Jain; Photo credit: https://www.jain-foundation.org

Ajit Jain and Gregory Abel moved a step closer to being the successors of Warren Buffett, as Berkshire Hathaway Inc. named them to the board of directors of the company on Wednesday.

The 66-year-old Jain has been named vice chairman for insurance operations of the conglomerate, which has some 60 companies.

Abel, his potential rival and the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, has been named vice chairman for non-insurance business operations of Berkshire.

The company said in a press release on Wednesday that Buffett and Vice Chairman Charles T. Munger “will continue in their existing positions, including being responsible for significant capital allocation decisions and investment activities.”

Jain, who was born in the Indian state of Orissa, joined Berkshire in 1986. As the insurance boss, he will be in charge of more than 43,000 people. The insurance division brings in roughly $113 billion annually.

It is not clear whether Abel, 55, or Jain, an IIT Kharagpur graduate, will succeed Buffet as the head of the $500 billion company. So far the Oracle of Omaha has not picked one over the other. He told CNBC that their promotion is “part of the movement toward succession” at the company.

“They know each other well, they like each other well, they both have their areas of specialty,” the celebrated investor said.

“It is now officially a two-man race to succeed Warren Buffett as chief executive of a conglomerate that owns everything from auto insurer Geico to fast-food chain Dairy Queen,” Wall Street Journal wrote after the promotion of Jain and Abel.

After graduating from IIT in mechanical engineering, Jain’s first big career break was when joined IBM as a salesman in India. He came to the United States in 1978. After an MBA from Harvard, he joined McKinsey & Co.

He left McKinsey in 1986 to join Berkshire.