Changes are afoot at Warren Buffett’s conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway today, with two new board director positions being created, one of which sees long-time reinsurance chief Ajit Jain becoming Vice Chairman of Insurance Operations.
Ajit Jain has led the reinsurance business at Berkshire Hathaway for some years now, having joined the Berkshire Hathaway Insurance Group in 1986.
Jain currently serves as Executive Vice President of National Indemnity Company and has overall responsibility for leading Berkshire Hathaway’s reinsurance operations.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Board of Directors voted yesterday to increase the number of directors on the company Board from twelve to fourteen.
Ajit Jain and Gregory E. Abel and were elected to serve as Directors to fill the two new positions on the Board.
Then Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway’s Chairman and CEO, appointed Abel to the position of Vice Chairman – Non-Insurance Business Operations and Jain to be its Vice Chairman – Insurance Operations.
Jain has long been cited as a likely lead for a major portion of the Berkshire Hathaway business, potentially even a successor for Warren Buffett, and this new role could see him having even greater influence over the direction of the firm’s insurance and reinsurance operations at Gen Re and Berkshire Hathaway Specialty.
Berkshire Hathaway now has three vice chairs, as Charlie Munger was already in such a role.
Berkshire Hathaway’s announcement today said that Buffett and Munger will both continue in their existing roles, with responsibility for significant capital allocation decisions and investment activities. That suggests the naming of successors remains some way off for now.
Speaking to CNBC news, Warren Buffett explained the thinking behind the creation of the two new directorships, “It’s part of the movement towards succession at this time. They are both key figures and this would have made sense five years ago. They have Berkshire in their blood.
“It’s very good for Berkshire and it’s even better for me.
Buffett said that people should not be concerned about his health, saying he planned to be around for the forseeable future at Berkshire Hathaway.
“It’s a transition period that may last a long time, or if something happened to me it could happen very soon,” he explained.
Buffett stressed that the insurance business remains separated from the investing undertaken by himself and Munger, saying that, “In our insurance operations, the leader’s job is to create good insurance businesses and generate more float overtime, then it is our job to invest it.”
Jain has significant experience in growing the Berkshire Hathaway re/insurance empire and it stands to reason he would be positioned as the person to oversee the operations of that division.
Todd Combs and Ted Weschler have both been slated as potential replacements for Buffett in the role of Chief Investment Officer of Berkshire Hathaway.