Board member: 92-year-old Buffett won't be replaced soon

A longtime Berkshire Hathaway board member says investors shouldn't expect a change of direction from the company following Warren Buffett's death.

Board member: 92-year-old Buffett won't be replaced soon

FILE – Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway smiles while he plays Bridge following the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in Omaha, Neb. on May 5, 2019. One long-time board member stated that investors should not expect to see a leadership change at Berkshire Hathaway any time soon, despite the fact that Buffett and Charlie Munger are both 92 years old.

Nati Harnik/AP

(AP) - Investors should not expect a leadership change at Berkshire Hathaway any time soon, despite the fact that Chairman Warren Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger are both 92 years old.

Ron Olson said to a group gathered of investors ahead of the annual meeting on Saturday that he didn't believe a transition from Greg Abel as CEO was imminent after spending so much time with both legendary investor. Buffett said that Abel would one day be the CEO of Berkshire. Abel oversees Berkshire's non insurance businesses. Buffett does not plan to retire.

Charlie at 99? Olson stated that the brain was as sharp as ever. Warren is the same. His energy is incredible. Greg is not going to take over tomorrow.

Shareholders who pack the Omaha arena will be thinking about the longevity of Buffett and Munger, who have led Berkshire in nearly 60 years. Many people wonder what will happen to the company once these two men are gone.

Olson, who has served on Berkshire’s board since 1997, has participated in countless discussions over the years regarding how Buffett might be replaced. He said that the board had total confidence in Abel who, from 2008 to 2018, led Berkshire’s massive utility division.

Olson says Abel is a Berkshire employee who has spent many years closely working with Buffett. He also knows Berkshire’s unique culture, which allows its companies to run themselves in large part. Olson believes that Abel's role in running the company will be primarily about preserving the culture of trust.

Olson stated that 'he has been groomed and trained a great deal'.

Berkshire has been saying for years that Buffett’s role as chairman, chief executive officer and chief investment office will be divided into multiple parts after he leaves. Berkshire designated Abel the CEO successor in 2012 after Munger hinted it at an annual meeting.

Buffett said that he thinks his son Howard, who is already on the board of Berkshire, would be an ideal chairman for protecting the company's cultural values.

Berkshire hired two more investment managers to oversee a smaller part of its portfolio. Olson said Abel would have to decide what role these two investment managers will play in managing Berkshire’s investments in future.

Berkshire is a diverse collection of companies, including Geico, other major insurances, BNSF Railroad, a variety of retail and manufacturing firms, and a number large utilities. Berkshire owns major stakes in Apple, Bank of America and American Express as well as Coca-Cola, BYD, the Chinese electric car manufacturer, and Coca-Cola.