The man who had already been widely seen as the leading candidate to be the "next" Warren Buffett has put a little more space between him and the rest of the pack, but probably doesn't have the job sewn up just yet.
Buffett selected David Sokol to be Chairman and interim CEO of NetJets after the resignation this week of the Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary's founder. That choice is being interpreted as an additional vote of confidence in Sokol's management abilities, making it even more likely the MidAmerican Energy Chairman will eventually succeed Buffett as Berkshire's CEO.
Well over a year ago, Barron's used its cover to proclaim Sokol the "Next Buffett," calling him the "most likely candidate to lead Berkshire Hathaway once the Great One departs."
Now, Barron's Andrew Bary, a longtime Buffett-watcher, says the NetJets appointment "seems to solidify Sokol's position as the likely successor to Buffett." Bary notes that Sokol "has no known experience" in the fractional jet business, making his choice look like a "strong vote of confidence by Buffett."
The Wall Street Journal writes that Sokol's appontment, "even on a temporary basis, could be seen as another sign of Mr. Sokol's growing clout in the conglomerate and with Mr. Buffett."
Berkshire shareholder Thomas Russo tells Reuters, "David has been increasingly appearing as a person who might be a strong horse in the race for CEO. This certainly wouldn't be inconsistent with that direction."