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Buffett on his mistakes & likely successor Ajit Jain

March 2, 2009

'There isn't anyone like Ajit'

Showering praise on Jain, who handles the reinsurance division of his company, Buffett noted that there is no one like him and added that his business is "never the same."

"Ajit came to Berkshire in 1986. Very quickly, I realised that we had acquired an extraordinary talent. So I did the logical thing: I wrote his parents in New Delhi and asked if they had another one like him at home. Of course, I knew the answer before writing. There isn't anyone like Ajit," Buffett said.

The Oracle, as Buffett is known, noted that a major mistake was buying ConocoPhillips shares when oil and gas prices were near their peak.

"I, in no way anticipated, the dramatic fall in energy prices that occurred in the last half of the year. . . Even if prices should rise, moreover, the terrible timing of my purchase has cost Berkshire several billion dollars," he said.

According to him, "other already-recognisable errors" committed include buying shares of two Irish banks. "During 2008, I spent $244 million for shares of two Irish banks that appeared cheap to me."

Image: Ajit Jain. | Photograph: Jay Mandal/On Assignment/Rediff Archives

Also read: '2009 to be most painful for Indian economy'
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