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Warren Buffett signals succession plan for CEO role

By Attracta Mooney

Warren Buffett has chosen who will succeed him as chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, but the Sage of Omaha did not reveal his replacement's name.

The 81-year-old had previously indicated that the Buffett family’s involvement in the company would continue – saying his son Howard would likely take over as non-executive chairman of the Nebraska-based company.

But up until last weekend, it was not clear if there were any succession plans in place for the chief executive role.

However, in his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Buffett said the company had decided on a chief executive.

"Your board is enthusiastic about my successor as CEO, an individual to whom they have had a great deal of exposure and whose managerial and human qualities they admire,” he said, adding that there were “two superb back-up candidates as well”.

His comments come just months after Buffett told US TV programme 60Minutes he wanted Howard to take on the chairmanship of Berkshire Hathaway. “I recommended to the directors … that after I die, Howard will be made the non-executive, non-paid chairman,” he said during the interview in December.

Buffett’s youngest son, Peter, also told CampdenFB last year that his brother would succeed his father.

But in the letter to shareholders, Buffett was quick to point out that neither he nor long-time business partner, 88-year-old Charlie Munger, were planning on retiring soon.

“Do not, however, infer from this discussion that Charlie and I are going anywhere; we continue to be in excellent health and we love what we do,” he wrote.

Buffet also said he was “dead wrong” about the US housing market, which he had predicted would recover last year. His comments came as Berkshire Hathaway said its net earnings fell to $10.25 billion (€7.6 billion) from $12.97 billion in 2010.