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Buffett's Succession Plan Blows Up

Alex Dumortier, CFA
March 31, 2011

Warren Buffett delivered a bombshell yesterday, announcing the resignation of David Sokol, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE: BRK-B  ) MidAmerican Energy unit. Sokol was widely considered to be the front-runner to become the CEO of Berkshire in the PB (post-Buffett) era. This is not good news for Berkshire shareholders and neither are some of the circumstances surrounding the departure.

In a memo-style press release from his own hand, Buffett explains that Sokol -- who had wanted to resign twice in the past -- is leaving to manage his personal wealth. Buffett also reveals that Sokol made a substantial purchase of Lubrizol (NYSE: LZ  ) shares in early January, just prior to suggesting to him that he consider the company as an acquisition target. Berkshire announced the $9.7 billion acquisition of Lubrizol on March 14.

This isn't the Berkshire way
The press release has a bit of Jedi-mind-trick quality to it ("This isn't the securities la