Few things are debated more in the investing world than the topic of who will be Warren Buffett's successor at Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A
). In the latest annual report, the Oracle of Omaha once again sparks the discussion. He writes in his letter to shareholders that the board, after vetting three candidates, has unanimously decided on the heir to his throne.
Of course, in true Buffett fashion, the sage fails to actually name that person. He even hedges the decision, saying, "The directors stay updated on this subject and could alter their view as circumstances change -- new managerial stars may emerge and present ones will age."
BIG SHOES. Whoever it is, the heir will have a pretty tough job ahead. Although Buffett's investing duties will fall to someone else, the new CEO of Berkshire Hathaway will have the unenviable task of overseeing 60-plus businesses in a diverse set of industries, ranging from insurance and furniture to food and mobile homes. Not to mention the pressure of taking over from a legend.
There's plenty of scuttlebutt over who's up for the job. Even Microsoft's (MSFT
) Bill Gates, a Berkshire board member, has been called a contender. "Personally, I think [that's] ludicrous," says Whitney Tilson of the investment firm T2 Partners. "But as a shareholder, I would be delighted."
But the job is more likely to fall to one of five guys: Joseph Brandon of General Re, Ajit Jain of National Indemnity, Tony Nicely of GEICO, Richard Santulli of NetJets, or David Sokol of MidAmerican Energy Holdings.
Check out our slide show for a closer look at each of them.