Following the resignation of Berkshire Hathaway billionaire Warren Buffett’s chief lieutenant, David Sokol, the leadership at MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. has appointed CEO Greg Abel chairman. Buffett said the conglomerate had been very successful in recent years in large part because of Sokol, calling his accomplishments “extraordinary,” and adding that Sokol and Abel “delivered the best performance of any managers in the public utility field.” Buffett stirred up Wall Street after the markets had closed Wednesday with the announcement that Sokol had submitted his resignation to strengthen his family’s financial resources. Buffett accepted the resignation, although twice in the past few years he and the Berkshire board had talked Sokol out of resigning. The resignation followed Berkshire’s March 13 announcement that it was buying specialty chemicals firm Lubrizol on the recommendation of Sokol, who purchased nearly 100,000 shares of the company for about $10 million earlier this year. Buffett said he learned about Sokol’s stock purchase March 19. While the stock purchase raised eyebrows on Wall Street, Sokol maintained that he had done nothing wrong regarding the Lubrizol acquisition — but told CNBC that if he had it to do over again, he would do things a bit differently. According to Buffett, before he overcame his skepticism and embraced the Lubrizol deal, he was leaning toward an acquisition by MidAmerican, which includes MidAmerican Energy Co., Kern River Gas Transmission Co., Northern Natural Gas, PacifiCorp, CE Electric UK and CalEnergy Generation.
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With Berkshire Hathaway billionaire Warren Buffett’s chief lieutenant resigning last Monday, the leadership at MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. has moved up CEO Greg Abel to chairman to fill the place of David Sokol, 54, Buffett’s long-time go-to executive and potential successor to the Berkshire throne.