"The most likely successor in our view, who Warren Buffett regularly praises, is Greg Abel", wrote J.P. Morgan analyst Sarah DeWitt in a note about Berkshire in September of a year ago.
For now, Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, 94, will remain responsible for Berkshire's major capital allocation and investment decisions, including acquisitions. Yet Buffett, who is 87, said it was time to have a plan and that Abel and Jain are the right choices. "They have Berkshire in their blood".
Buffett said the move isn't due to any looming concerns, saying he's in "remarkably good health".
Jain had been positioned as a possible successor for the operational part of the Berkshire Hathaway reinsurance and insurance business, potentially even a successor for Warren Buffett himself.
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Jain and Abel each fit many aspects of Buffett's carefully tailored job description.
Abel, who joined the company in 1992, has been serving as CEO and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Energy Co.
Buffett told CNBC that elevating Abel and Jain would have also made sense five years ago. Jain is head of Berkshire's insurance operations, including executive vice president of National Indemnity Co. of Omaha.
Messrs. Jain and Abel have always been considered by those that follow Berkshire to be the leading candidates to replace Mr. Buffett when he no longer leads the company.