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Berkshire Hathaway director Olson says Abel has the board’s total confidence – Metro US

Berkshire Hathaway director Olson says Abel has the board’s total confidence

FILE PHOTO: Berkshire Hathaway shareholders walking by a video screen
FILE PHOTO: Berkshire Hathaway shareholders walking by a video screen at the company’s annual meeting in Omaha

OMAHA, Neb. (Reuters) – One of Berkshire Hathaway’s longest-serving directors on Thursday gave a full-throated endorsement to Greg Abel as designated successor to Warren Buffett when the billionaire steps down.

“He has the total confidence not only of Warren, but the board,” Ronald Olson, a close confidante of Buffett and a Berkshire director since 1997, said at the Berkshire System Summit, hosted by the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Abel, 59, had been the chief executive of what is now Berkshire Hathaway Energy, before being named a vice chairman overseeing Berkshire’s non-insurance businesses in 2018.

Last May, Buffett, 91, said Abel was the board’s choice to replace him as CEO when necessary. “The directors are in agreement that if something were to happen to me tonight, it would be Greg who’d take over tomorrow morning,” Buffett said a year ago.

Speaking ahead of Berkshire’s annual meeting which kicks off Friday, Olson praised Abel’s managerial skills, saying “he understands numbers better than anyone I’ve been around, he understands people better than anyone I’ve been around.”

He also said Abel has built a close relationship with Berkshire’s dozens of non-insurance subsidiaries, which also include businesses in the manufacturing, railroad, retail and other sectors.

“There is no question he’s brought to bear a closer connection between the parent company and individual subsidiaries,” Olson said.

Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, 98, remain responsible for major capital allocation decisions, while Buffett handles the bulk of Berkshire’s common stock investments. Another vice chairman, Ajit Jain, oversees insurance subsidiaries.

(Reporting by Carolina Mandl and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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