Warren Buffett Officially Names Farmer Son Howard As Successor

PHOTO: Howard Buffett, president of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation
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In an interview with 60 Minutes that will air this Sunday, Warren Buffett announces his choice of son Howard – or "Howie", as he's known in the family – as his successor at Berkshire Hathaway.

The elder Buffett tells interviewer Leslie Stahl that his son will serve as a "guardian" of the company's "values" rather than a CEO, as long as the company's board approves. When America's second richest person Buffett Sr. dies, 56-year-old Howard will be "non-executive chairman", an unpaid position.

Howie won't direct strategy at the multi-billion-dollar investment firm, and he'll keep his day job as a corn and soybean farmer. (His own son Howard W. Buffett is also a farmer, and one of Forbes' Names You Need To Know for 2011.)

"You worry that somebody will be in charge of Berkshire that uses it as their own sandbox in some way," Buffett explains to Stahl in Sunday's interview.

"That changes the way that decisions are made in reference to the shareholders. The odds of that happening are very, very, very low, but having Howie there adds just one extra layer of protection."

For his part, Howie doesn't think he'll be called upon to take over any time soon. "He won't leave until he's buried in the ground," he says of his dad, who is healthy at age 81.

Berkshire Hathaway's stock price has remained largely unchanged in the hours since the announcement, possibly due to the non-executive nature of Howie's future role. Shares in the Omaha, Nebraska firm trade at over $100,000 apiece.

Forbes has reached out to Berkshire Hathaway for comment.

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