Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Warren Buffett Acquires a Successor

The hiring of an investment manager isn't normally big news. But when a 39-year-old hedge fund manager gets picked to eventually replace 80-year-old legend Warren Buffett it makes international headlines. Todd Combs will leave his job at hedge fund Castle Point Capital Management in Greenwich, Conn., at the end of 2010 to join Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett is currently the chief executive and top investment officer at his insurance and investment firm. But Berkshire is expected to split Buffett's job in two when he retires. Three years ago, Buffett said the company had a number of good choices to succeed him as CEO, but still needed to hire someone who could take over his money management role. Buffett helped set up Combs at Castle Point five years ago by finding him seed money from a private equity firm. Comb's main fund is up 34% in the past five years, well better than the Standard & Poors 500 during the same time, which has fallen more than 5%. But Buffett may have picked Combs because of what he hasn't invested in. Comb's fund specializes in financial services companies. Yet he has managed to avoid most of the long list of blow-ups of the past three years including AIG, Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers or Washington Mutual. 'Don't lose money' is one of Buffett's classic investment rules.