By GERALDINE FABRIKANT
Published: April 23, 2007
CHICAGO — Warren E. Buffett is hardly a man of mystery.
But when investors gather in Omaha in two weeks for the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, there will be a nagging question mark over the head of the 76-year-old chairman: who might someday replace him in each of the two roles he plays — chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, and its chief investment officer?
A bit more is known about the choice of a future chief executive. Mr. Buffett has said there are three candidates from various Berkshire-owned companies. Buffett watchers speculate that the list includes David L. Sokol of MidAmerican Energy Holdings; Ajit Jain, head of the reinsurance division of Berkshire’s National Indemnity Company; Tony Nicely, chief executive of Geico; Joseph P. Brandon, chairman of General Re; and Richard T. Santulli, founder of NetJets.
The bigger mystery is who will become the chief investment officer. Mr. Buffett says he does not know himself. On this point of succession, “frankly, we are not as well prepared,” he wrote in his 2006 shareholder letter last month.
Here is a clue, though. He or she will probably be a lot like Louis Simpson.