Almost immediately, Buffett watchers began to speculate that Mr Munger had inadvertently let out one of Berkshire’s most closely kept secrets. Days later, Mr. Buffett clarified the company’s plans to CNBC.
BlackRock declined to comment on Mr. Buffett’s disclosure on Monday.
For many, Mr. Abel’s recognition came as no surprise.
Born in Canada and an accountant by training, Mr. Abel spent most of his career in what became MidAmerican Energy, an electric utility that Berkshire acquired in 2000. Under Mr. Abel and his then boss , David J. Sokol, MidAmerican bought a series of companies that made it one of America’s largest power producers. (Mr Sokol was seen as a potential successor to Mr Buffett until his resignation in 2011 after Berkshire concluded he had violated company policy by purchasing a stake in a chemical company shortly before recommend that Berkshire acquire the business.)
Mr. Abel became Managing Director of MidAmerican – which has since been renamed Berkshire Hathaway Energy – in 2008, and one of his main goals has been to strengthen the company’s reliance on renewable energy. At Saturday’s annual meeting, Mr Abel said the division, which contributes around a tenth of Berkshire’s total revenue, has spent more than $ 30 billion on renewable energy sources.
“We have a lot of comfort in Abel,” said James Shanahan, research analyst at Edward Jones. “He has proven to be a really effective leader of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.”
Mr Abel has been one of the pioneers to succeed Mr Buffett since 2018, when he was appointed Vice President of Berkshire alongside Ajit Jain, the longtime head of Mr Buffett’s vast insurance operations. Buffett. Analysts and investors have widely interpreted the move as signaling that the pair were contenders to one day succeed Mr Buffett as chief executive.
Mr. Abel and Mr. Jain took on leading roles at Saturday’s annual meeting, an hour-long event that traditionally focused on Mr. Buffett and Mr. Munger. Each has covered more topics than in years past, from inflation to more unusual topics like whether Berkshire would take over Elon Musk’s planned trip to Mars (“No,” Mr Jain said).