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Meet Greg Abel, Warren Buffett's successor and heir apparent to Berkshire Hathaway

Kwan Wei Kevin Tan   

Meet Greg Abel, Warren Buffett's successor and heir apparent to Berkshire Hathaway
  • Warren Buffett named Greg Abel, 61, as his successor at Berkshire Hathaway back in 2021.
  • Abel started out as an accountant, before taking the reins as CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

Warren Buffett may be synonymous with Berkshire Hathaway, but the 93-year-old has long identified his successor.

That person is Greg Abel, 61. The Canadian businessman is currently chair of Berkshire Hathaway Energy and vice chair for non-insurance operations at Berkshire Hathaway.

In 2021, Buffett told CNBC that Abel was his heir apparent.

"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 told CNBC's Becky Quick then.

And now, with the passing of Buffett's longtime business partner Charlie Munger on Tuesday, Abel might just find himself in the spotlight more often.

From accountant to Berkshire acolyte

Abel graduated with a degree in commerce from the University of Alberta in 1984. In 2013, Abel spoke to his alma mater's alumni magazine about his passion for accounting.

"I started with a stronger interest in finance but accounting took over when I came to realize how critically important it was to understand things such as income and cash flow statements," said Abel, who started his career working at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In 1992, the certified public accountant joined geothermal-electricity producer, CalEnergy. CalEnergy would later acquire MidAmerican Energy in 1999, adopting the latter's name in the process.

Abel found himself in Buffett's orbit when Berkshire Hathaway bought a controlling interest in MidAmerican Energy that same year. Abel took over the reins of MidAmerican in 2008, which was renamed Berkshire Hathaway Energy in 2014.

Abel's tenure as Berkshire Hathaway Energy's CEO would last for two decades until he stepped down in 2018. He is currently chair of Berkshire Hathaway Energy and has been on the company's board since 2000.

In 2018, Abel got a seat on Berkshire Hathway's board and was named vice chair of the conglomerate's non-insurance operations.

A better Warren Buffett

Abel has been well-regarded amongst his Berkshire colleagues, including Buffett's late right-hand man, Charlie Munger.

"Greg is just sensational at being a business leader, both as a thinker and as a doer," Munger said of Abel during this year's Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. "He's also just a tremendous learning machine — you can argue that he's just as good as Warren at learning all kinds of things."

"There's some things he's better at than Warren is, and Warren knows that, and he just keeps dumping on Greg everything that Greg can do better, and that's a lot," Munger continued.

Munger was once tipped as a potential successor by Buffett, though the latter said he had to pass on Munger in favor of someone younger, per an annual shareholder letter from 2007.

Buffett wrote about the company's future in a recent press release on November 21.

"Berkshire – one of the largest and most diversified companies in the world – will inevitably encounter human errors in judgment and behavior. These occur at all large organizations, public or private. But these mistakes are unlikely to be serious at Berkshire and will be acknowledged and corrected," Buffett said in the press release.

"We have the right CEO to succeed me and the right Board of Directors as well. Both are needed," Buffett added.

Representatives for Abel did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular business hours.

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