Warren Buffett's Successor: Howard To Take On Leadership Role When His Father Dies [WATCH]
Warren Buffett said he believes his son, a farmer by trade, would make a good successor because he would preserve the company's traditions, according to a 60 Minutes interview scheduled to air Sunday.
The elder Buffett tells CBS's Leslie Stahl that he wants to make his son Howard, the "non-executive chairman" of Berkshire Hathaway after he dies -- an unpaid position that wouldn't give Howard a role in directing the strategy of the company. The 56-year-old Howard is a farmer with no college degree who also travels the world helping the poor farm their crops more efficiently.
Still, Howard would seem to have a high-level of business acumen. He's been a member of Berkshire's board since 1993 and is also a member of the board at Coca-Cola, The Lindsay Corporation and Sloan Implement, according to The Street.
"You worry that somebody will be in charge of Berkshire that uses it as their own sandbox in some way. That changes the way that decisions are made in reference to the shareholders," Warren Buffett tells Stahl in the 60 Minutes piece. "The odds of that happening are very, very, very low, but having Howie there adds just one extra layer of protection."
Warren cited Howard's values as one reason why he would make a good guardian of his company. One priority that they share: putting a stop to income inequality. Warren penned an op-ed in The New York Times in August arguing that the wealthiest Americans should pay as much or more in taxes as their middle-class counterparts. Howard told Bloomberg in October that he understands the frustrations of middle-class Americans who were taken advantage of by corporations.
Though Howard wouldn't literally become Warren's successor -- the elder Buffett is currently the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway -- the interview's revelation is significant as Warren rarely discusses the future of his company without him. The 81-year-old billionaire investor has been known to joke that he plans to run his company "by seance" after he dies, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The elder Buffett won't be able to run the company from the grave, but he's not giving up his power any time soon, Howard says in the interview.
"He won't leave until he's buried in the ground. I hate to put it that way," Howard tells Stahl.
But some who apply their tea-leaf deciphering skills to press releases are speculating that the elder Buffett may step down sooner than most initially expected. Stifel Nicolaus analyst Meyer Shields said that a reference to Buffett's retirement in a September news release indicates that he may step down before he dies, according to the WSJ.