DealZone

Deals wrap: A successor for Buffett?

July 30, 2010

A fairly unheralded 44-year-old Chinese-American hedge fund manager, with a strong background as a human rights activist, has become a leading candidate to replace Warren Buffett, should he retire as founder and CEO of the $100-billion Berkshire Hathaway fund, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Li Lu, who was a student leader during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing, is the first person to be identified to potentially replace the soon to be 80-year-old Buffett, in what the WSJ story said is “among the most high-profile succession stories in modern corporate history.”

Buffett told the WSJ his retirement plans are not imminent and his job would likely be split after he leaves the company into separate CEO and investing functions. The WSJ story revealed David Sokol, the current chairman of Berkshire unit MidAmerican Energy Holdings, is considered the top contender for Buffett’s CEO role, while Li would potentially serve as one of Berkshire’s top fund managers.

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Recently Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told ABC News’s Diane Sawyer he would only consider an IPO “when it makes sense,” but now Bloomberg, “citing three people familiar with the matter,” reports that may not be until 2012.

The postponement would give Zuckerberg more time to increase users – Facebook just surpassed the 500 million mark – and boost sales which could double to at least $1.4 billion in 2010, according to the sources quoted by Bloomberg.

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After dragging out the drama for months, the Walt Disney Co. has finally agreed to sell its stake in Miramax film studio for more than $660 million to Filmyard Holdings LLC, according to Reuters.

The sale includes rights in more than 700 movie titles, including Academy Award winners such as “Chicago,” and “Shakespeare in Love,” Disney told Reuters.

“It turns the page on Disney’s foray into non-Disney branded films and completes their focus on franchise properties,” Gabelli & Co analyst Chris Marangi told Reuters.

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After Tomkins shareholder Standard Life last week objected to a buyout attempt for the UK autoparts maker by a joint bid orchestrated by U.S. private equity firm Onex and the Canada Pension Plan, ratings agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s have put Tomkins on credit watch.

The ratings agencies are apparently concerned by the amount of debt involved in the $4.4-billion take-private bid, which was backed by the Tomkins board earlier this week.

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