Potential Buffett Successor Steps Down As Berkshire Utility's CEO


David Sokol, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway's utility subsidiary MidAmerican Energy Holdings, will give up that post at the company's board meeting next month, but will remain chairman. He's been CEO since 1991.

A news release from the company today says longtime MidAmerican executive Gregory Abel, currently President and Chief Operating Officer, will move into the chief executive role. In the release, Sokol says, "Greg Abel and I have worked together for more than fifteen years. Greg is one of the finest executives in our industry, and he has the full confidence of (Berkshire board member) Walter Scott, Jr., Warren Buffett and I."

Sokol, who is 51 years old, has been "mentioned" as a candidate to become CEO of Berkshire Hathaway when Buffett, now 77, gives up the job, according to an AP story on CNBC.comtoday. The AP does not say who was doing the mentioning. It also lists Ajit Jain, who runs Berkshire's insurance operations, Geico's Tony Nicely, and NetJets' Richard Santulli in the same category of potential candidates.

In his annual Letter to Shareholders earlier this month, Buffett noted that "we have for some time been well-prepared for CEO succession because we have three outstanding internal candidates. The board knows exactly whom it would pick if I were to become unavailable, either because of death or diminishing abilities." No specific names are 'mentioned' by Buffett himself.

The news release doesn't have any explanation for the CEO changeover at MidAmerican and the AP says Sokol "didn't immediately respond to messages."

I'm not even going to attempt any speculation on whether today's announcement is somehow connected to the question of who will be Buffett's successor as CEO of Berkshire!

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