Buffett Says Combs Likely to Head GEICO Only Temporarily

By | February 24, 2020

Warren Buffett doesn’t expect Todd Combs, one of his two key investing deputies, to be at auto insurer Geico long.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. tapped Combs in December to become chief executive officer of its Geico unit. He replaced Bill Roberts, who became vice chairman and said he plans to leave the company by the end of 2020. Combs, 49, is the insurer’s third CEO in the past several years.

“Todd is there and I hope very much that he’s not there very long,” Buffett said Monday in an interview on CNBC. “Our intention always is to promote from within. We would hope to pick out the right person at Geico.”

Tony Nicely quietly stepped down as Geico’s CEO in 2018 after running the insurer for decades. He was replaced by Roberts, who later told Berkshire he would soon retire.

Combs and Buffett’s other top investing deputy, Ted Weschler, haven’t limited their Berkshire responsibilities to picking stocks. Combs also helped with the formation of Berkshire’s health-care venture with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Amazon.com Inc., and Weschler helped Buffett negotiate on deals including the purchase of German motorcycle-equipment retailer Detlev Louis Motorradvertriebs GmbH.

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