Fortune: Warren Buffett’s Mr. Fix-It: Full Version

Securities And Exchange Commission SECBy U.S. Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Fortune: Warren Buffett's Mr. Fix-It: Full Version

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While word has spread that Li Lu is considered to be the next CIO for Berkshire Hathaway, there seems to be some confusion in the media. Munger mentioned that Lu will likely take over as Chief Investment Officer for Berkshire Hathaway however no mention was made of who will replace Buffett as CEO. It seems very unlikely that Li Lu would become CEO, since he has no experience running a company, and he would therefore be far better off managing Berkshire’s investments as CIO. However, the speculation is ripe that a man named David Sokol will become the next CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Many Berkshire Hathaway experts strongly expect Sokol to be the next CEO. David Sokol is CEO of NetJets and the previous CEO of MidAmerican Energy; both companies are Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries. Recently, CNN Money ran a lengthy article. Sokol has the track record of running two large corporations, and has proven his management skills by turning NetJets around.

FORTUNE — The day after Lehman collapsed in September 2008, David Sokol noticed that the stock of Constellation Energy, a Baltimore utility, was plummeting. He called his boss, Warren Buffett, and said, “I see an opportunity here.” Buffett, who had noticed the same thing, replied after a brief discussion: “Let’s go after it.”

Constellation (CEG, Fortune 500) held vast amounts of energy futures contracts that had gone sour, and the company appeared to be on the verge of bankruptcy. Sokol, as chairman of the Berkshire subsidiary MidAmerican Energy Holdings, knew the utility industry and saw a chance to buy solid assets at a bargain price. The deal, however, had to be done within 48 hours or the company would have to file for bankruptcy.

Sokol phoned the office of Constellation CEO Mayo Shattuck III, who was in an emergency board meeting. When his assistant answered, Sokol told her he’d like to speak to him. The secretary replied that if she interrupted the meeting, she might lose her job. Sokol replied, “If you don’t interrupt the meeting, you might lose your job.”

Sokol boarded a Falcon 50EX and sped to Baltimore. He met with Shattuck and struck a deal that evening to buy the company for $4.7 billion, staving off bankruptcy.

Within weeks, before the acquisition was completed, Constellation’s board received a competing bid from Électricité de France for about a 30% premium. The board liked the offer, and so did Sokol — who walked away with a $1.2 billion breakup fee for Berkshire.

Read the rest of the article at CNN Money

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