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Greg Abel New Contender Warren Buffett

Greg Abel New Contender Warren Buffett - Warren Buffett's still-unrevealed succession plan is a subject of obsessive speculation in the financial world, where it receives a level of scrutiny that's typically reserved for Oscar nominees and presidential candidates. The latest shortlist of contenders comes courtesy of Vanity Fair, which, in a recent profile of Buffett, homed in on four CEOs of Berkshire Hathaway companies: Ajit Jain, who heads Berkshire's reinsurance business; David Sokol of NetJets; Greg Abel of MidAmerican Energy Holdings; and Matthew Rose of Burlington Northern.

Longtime Buffett watchers will recognize all of those names as successor candidates, except one. Abel, described by Vanity Fair only as "Sokol's number two," is a new addition to the field.

Greg Abel New Contender Warren Buffett

Abel got into the utility business in 1992, when he left Price Waterhouse to work for CalEnergy, an independent power producer run by Sokol. When CalEnergy bought the U.K. utility Northern Electric in 1996, Sokol asked Abel, then the company's chief accounting officer, to move to Newcastle to handle the takeover. Walter Scott, a Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA, Fortune 500) director and major shareholder in MidAmerican, says he was impressed by Abel's handling of the task.

"Greg is the kind of person that, whenever he's been asked to do something, he's willing to go and do it," says Scott. "He picked up his family and he moved to England. He did an outstanding job."

Greg Abel New Contender Warren Buffett

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