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Bill Gates Promises to Help Keep Berkshire Hathaway "Great" After Warren Buffett

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, right, and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates participate in a Q & A session with students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Business Administration, in Lincoln, Neb., Friday, Sept. 30, 2005.(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Nati Harnik
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, right, and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates participate in a Q & A session with students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Business Administration, in Lincoln, Neb., Friday, Sept. 30, 2005.(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Warren Buffett's good friend and philanthropy partner, Bill Gates, says he's made a lifelong commitment to protect Berkshire Hathaway's culture and values after Buffett is no longer running the company.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, the 53-year-old Microsoft co-founder and Berkshire board member says:

"I've got a commitment to stay involved with Berkshire as a lifelong thing. We always have to think about what might happen and make sure Berkshire is not just great now, but forever."

Donald Keough, Coca-Cola Nonexecutive Chairman of the Board
The Coca-Cola Company
Donald Keough, Coca-Cola Nonexecutive Chairman of the Board

Another Berkshire director, former Coca-Cola executive Don Keough, is also thinking about the long run. He tells Bloomberg, "When you're sitting on the board, you're talking about sustainability of Berkshire Hathaway long-term, the issue of management down the road. The culture he's built into Berkshire is intense and real and, I think, permanent."

Buffett, who is 78 years old, has acknowledged to Bloomberg (and others) that the succession question is "the most important issue there is. There's nothing more important. Nobody knows on any given day where I'll be the next day."

Berkshire has identified candidates to replace Buffett as CEO. They all "currently work for or are available to Berkshire and are people in whom I have total confidence," but Buffett and the company absolutely refuse to name any names.

There's been, however, no shortage of speculation.

Portions of the Gates and Keough interviews will appear in a Bloomberg TV special about Berkshire Hathaway, airing today (Tuesday) at 5p ET.

Current Berkshire stock prices:

Class A:

Class B:

Microsoft:

Coca-Cola:

Questions? Comments? Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com

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