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Buffett adds investment exec as part of succession

Sept. 13, 2011 - 11:29 By

OMAHA, Nebraska (AP) -- Berkshire Hathaway has hired a second hedge fund manager to help run the company's investment portfolio and prepare for what it described as the eventual retirement of 81-year-old billionaire Warren Buffett.

Berkshire said Monday that Ted Weschler will join the Omaha-based company early next year. The 50-year-old has announced to the partners of his hedge fund, Peninsula Capital Advisors, that he will begin winding up the fund so he can join Berkshire.

The announcement helps clarify the investment part of Berkshire's succession plan, but because the company plans to split Buffett's job into separate CEO, chairman and investment manager jobs, it's still not clear who will lead Berkshire after Buffett is gone.

Weschler founded Peninsula Capital in 1999, and is a managing partner of the firm, based in Charlottesville, Virginia. The hedge fund makes investments in publicly traded companies. Peninsula Capital held a concentrated portfolio of nine stocks as of June 30 that was worth nearly $2 billion, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Berkshire has said that the board has a list of four internal candidates to replace Buffett as chief executive, but Buffett has always refused to name them.

Berkshire said Buffett will continue to manage most of the company's investments ``until his retirement.''

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Meyer Shields said he believes the use of the word retirement may be significant because previously Buffett had suggested he would continue working until he either became incapacitated or died.

``The word retirement seems sort of jarring to us,'' Shields said.

Andy Kilpatrick, the stockbroker-author of ``Of Permanent Value, the Story of Warren Buffett,'' said it is unusual for Berkshire or Buffett to use the word retirement, but he doesn't expect imminent change at the company. And Weschler's hiring helps clarify the succession plan a bit.

``I think that should give some relief to people who are wondering what's going to happen,'' Kilpatrick said.

Buffett did not immediately respond to a request for an interview Monday.

Weschler's hiring comes after Berkshire last fall named Todd Combs to help run a portfolio of roughly $1 billion to $3 billion of investments. Weschler also will run a segment, but Monday's release didn't specify the size of the portfolio he will run.

Monday's announcement said that Combs and Weschler will eventually share responsibility for Berkshire's entire equity and debt portfolio, after Buffett no longer serves as CEO. The announcement said that they could be aided by one additional manager, and their management of the entire portfolio would be subject to the direction of the CEO at that time, as well as the company's board.

``With Todd and Ted on board, Berkshire is well-positioned for successor investment management at the time Mr. Buffett is no longer CEO,'' the company said.

Weschler did not immediately respond to a message left at his office Monday morning.

Shields said he doesn't know much about Weschler, but he appears to have a solid investment record.

Kilpatrick said Weschler's hiring is similar to Combs' in that neither man was well-known before Buffett chose them.

``Another under-the-radar pick,'' Kilpatrick said.

Weschler may have bought his job interview with Buffett through an annual auction that benefits the Glide Foundation, which provides social services to the poor and homeless in San Francisco.

Glide spokeswoman Denise Lamott confirmed Monday that Weschler paid nearly $5.3 million to win the last two auctions for private lunches with Buffett. Unlike other winners of the auction who enjoyed publicity while dining with Buffett in New York, Weschler asked to remain anonymous and met Buffett at one of his favorite Omaha restaurants after the 2010 and 2011 auctions.

In addition to helping run Peninsula Capital, Weschler is a director of WSFS Financial Corp. Peninsula held 1.5 million shares of WSFS as of June 30.

In 1989, Weschler was a founding partner of Quad-C, a private equity firm. Before that, he spent six years with W.R. Grace & Co. in several positions. Peninsula held nearly 10.8 million shares of W.R. Grace.

He received his bachelor's degree in economics from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Before joining Berkshire, Combs managed the Castle Point Capital hedge fund for five years.

Class B shares of Berkshire stock rose $1.47 Monday to close at $69.24. It's Class A shares gained $1,528 to close at $103,800.

Besides investments, Berkshire owns roughly 80 subsidiaries, including clothing, furniture and jewelry firms, but its insurance and utility businesses typically account for more than half of the company's net income. It has major investments in such companies as Coca-Cola Co. and Wells Fargo & Co.



펀드매니저 버핏 후계군 합류

은퇴를 앞두고 있는 '투자의 달인' 워런 버핏(81)의 후계 후보군에 무명의 펀드 매니저가 합류했다.

버핏이 이끄는 미국 버크셔 해서웨이그룹은 12일 중소 헤지펀드 '페닌슐라 캐피 털 어드바이저스'의 펀드 매니저 테드 웨슐러(50)가 내년 초부터 해서웨이에서 일하게 된다고 발표했다.

해서웨이측은 웨슐러가 페닌슐러 캐퍼털의 파트너들에게 이같은 사실을 알리고 페닌슐러의 일을 접을 것이라고 말했다면서 작년 가을 해서웨이에 진입한 토드 콤스와 콤비를 이루며 주식 자산을 운용해 나갈 것이라고 덧붙였다.

콤스는 현재 10억~30억 달러 정도의 투자자산을 관리하고 있는데 해서웨이는 이 날 발표에서 향후 웨슐러가 어느 정도 운용할 지에 대해서는 구체적으로 밝히지 않 았다.

524억 달러 자산규모 해서웨이 그룹 총수인 버핏 회장은 펀드 운용자 한사람을 더 영입할 지도 모른다면서 은퇴할 때까지 대부분 자산을 직접 관리해 나갈 것이라 고 말해 왔다.

해서웨이는 그러나 이날 발표에서 버핏이 최고경영자(CEO)직을 내놓게 될 경우 콤스와 웨슐러 두 사람이 이사회 및 새 CEO의 지침에 따라 회사 자산과 부채 관리에 관한 책임을 공유하게 될 것이라고 말했다.

해서웨이는 버핏이 현재 모두 갖고 있는 회장, CEO 및 투자관리자 직책을 분리 하는 방안을 추진하고 있으나 버핏 이후 해서웨이를 이끌 후계가 아직은 명확하지 않은 상태.

해서웨이는 또 이사회에서 CEO 후보로 내부인사 4명의 명단을 작성해 놨다고 말 하고 있지만 버핏은 계속 그 명단을 밝히기를 거부해 왔다.

한편 웨슐러는 1999년 버니지아주 샬러츠빌에서 페닌슐러 캐피털을 창업, 그 자 산이 20억 달러 규모로 알려지고 있는데 지난 11년간 1천236%의 투자수익을 올린 것 으로 알려지고 있다.

이는 이 기간 해서웨이사 클래스B주식이 84% 올랐고, 스탠더드 앤드 푸어스(S&P) 500지수는 23% 하락한 것과 크게 대비되는 것이다.

웨슐러는 샌프란시스코 소재 글라이드 파운데이션을 위해 매년 개최되는, '버핏 과의 오찬' 경매에 참여하면서 버핏과 자연스럽게 대면할 수 있었던 것으로 알려지 고 있다.

미 경제전문 포천에 따르면 웨슐러는 과거 두차례 이 경매에서 낙찰자가 돼 530 만 달러를 지불했으며 글라이드측에는 익명으로 해 주도록 당부했던 것으로 전해진다.