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Buffett praises Jain; adds to Indian-origin successor rumour

He was replying to queries whether Jain would succeed him as chief of Berkshire Hathaway, a US-based investment conglomerate.

PTI|
Updated: Mar 23, 2011, 02.40 PM IST
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Buffett praises Jain; adds to Indian-origin successor rumour
BANGALORE: Legendary investor Warren Buffett today heaped lavish praise on Ajit Jain, long rumoured to be his successor, but stopped short of any clear hints on whether he would pass on the reins to the Indian-origin executive.

"I owe it to the people of India for sending Ajit Jain (to me) ... he is much smarter than what I am," 80-year old Buffett said during his maiden visit to India.

He was replying to queries whether Jain would succeed him as chief of Berkshire Hathaway, a US-based investment conglomerate with interests in a host of American and global blue-chip companies.

Jain currently heads reinsurance business of Berkshire Hathaway and his name has consistently figured among probable candidates to succeed Buffett after his retirement.

Buffett has been expressing his desire to retire for quite a few years now and has been saying that he would prefer someone from inside the group to succeed him.

Besides Jain, the others rumoured to succeed Buffett include NetJets and MidAmerican Energy Chairman David Sokol, MidAmerican Energy CEO Greg Abel, Geico CEO Tony Nicely and Burlington Northern Santa Fe CEO Matt Rose. All these companies are part of Buffett's sprawling business empire.

Buffett did not give any direct answer to queries on whether Jain would succeed him, but said that Jain was an extraordinary person.

On a lighter note, Buffett said: "He (Jain) is not looking to take my job ... but he is an extraordinary person."

Recalling his first meeting with Jain, Buffett said: "On a Saturday in 1985 (when I first met him), I was looking at him and I knew I was talking to a person of incredible talent."

"He (Jain) loves what he does ... he is extraordinary in business, he is an extraordinary human being ... he is remarkable," he said.

Showering further praises, Buffett said Jain was "like a brother, like a son... (he) excels in every single task he takes ... he has been more than generous throughout his career."

Buffett went on to say that Jain could have made more money outside Berkshire, but he was unbelievably hardworking, smart and could have probably made more money for Berkshire than I have."
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