Who will take over for Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, when the time comes? One name at the top of the list is Li Lu, a relatively unknown fund manager born in China.Forget the double-dip recession, financial reforms and the new iPhone's reception problems. The talk of Wall Street this week was focused on Li Lu, the latest rumored candidate to take over part of CEO Warren Buffett's role at Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B).

Early Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese-born Li had emerged as a leading candidate to oversee a chunk of Berkshire's $100 billion portfolio, based on an interview with Vice Chairman Charlie Munger. Li's the first candidate who's been named, so far, according to the Journal. While he isn't planning to leave his post, the 79-year-old Buffett has said he would likely split his job up when he does.

Buffett's age, along with that of 86-year-old Munger, has fueled speculation about the company's future leadership. Li is apparently close friends with Munger, and has already been bringing the Omaha, Neb.-based company some big investments with large returns, including Chinese battery and auto maker BYD. That investment has reportedly yielded Berkshire a $1.2 billion profit.

Embracing the free market

Before turning to investing, Li was a student leader in the Tiananmen Square uprising. He earned three degrees at Columbia University, including a graduate degree in business. Then, in 1998, he began running a high-risk hedge fund, requiring a minimum investment of $1 million. His fund has averaged a 24% annual return. "Free man, free market," he's constantly quoted as saying.

Another possible successor is David Sokol, chairman of MidAmerican Energy Holdings and NetJets, both Berkshire companies. It's unclear whether the news about Li means that Sokol may now have been bumped from the top of the list, or if Sokol might take over as CEO while Li takes over as a top investment executive.

No sign of slowing down

In his annual letter to shareholders earlier this year, Buffett, known affectionately as the Oracle of Omaha, didn't offer any clues about his succession. "At 86 and 79, Charlie and I remain lucky beyond our dreams...we have long had jobs that we love, in which we are helped in countless ways by talented and cheerful associates. Indeed,over the years, our work has become ever more fascinating; no wonder we tap-dance to work. If pushed, we would gladly pay substantial sums to have our jobs (but don't tell the Comp Committee)."

The company has been conspicuously mute on the succession topic for the last several years. Friday's news was a notable departure from that silent strategy -- and may have been a reaction to some analysts putting a sell rating on the stock. One analyst warned this month that the company's stock price might drop if the economy weakens and Berkshire's consumer-oriented businesses see their revenue drop.

But Berkshire's stock also got some good publicity this week. The exclusive Tiger 21 peer-investment club picked Berkshire as its top stock, based on the stock's 19% return this year. The club has 140 members, each of whom must have a net worth of at least $10 million.

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joejoeblowit

What a Great American Mr. Buffett is and his superior skill and intellect at making money in the American Capitalist System shows why he supported such a great man like President Obama who has save the US from total destruction due to the Republican Destructive Policies! God Bless America and its political leadership as well few moral business leaders like Mr. Buffett. I am a rich man do to his skills and I sleep good at night as well for not profiting at others demise; thank you Berkshire Hathaway!

August 01 2010 at 10:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bt7604

WHY NOT LET BARRY RUN IT? LMAO

August 01 2010 at 9:07 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
ajgorm

Do we need to ask this question. Who will assign the risk for profit. UH huh. I will. Buy this as we sell that. Ka Ching instant money..

August 01 2010 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John

Nothing but lazy corporate raiding scum getting rich on the labor of the working man.

August 01 2010 at 12:13 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
andrc657

Warren Buffett has famously stated that his secretary pays a higher percentage of her salary in taxes than he does. He and Bill Gates and many other wealthy individuals have called for raising taxes on the rich.

August 01 2010 at 11:49 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to andrc657's comment
joejoeblowit

You are very correct and that is straight taxes with no tax avoidance other than usual personal deduction we all get! The top 300 American Incomes paid only 17% in tax's on 100's of Millions of income while those who worked and made 80K paid 34% in Tax's! It is time we really have a honest look at how little percentage the wealthy pay on their income they admit to as well the very real and massive underground economy they have that is never discussed! So many just want to focus on poor people who get help and people who work for cash which is less than ,01% of what the wealthy Welfare and Underground Economy is!

August 01 2010 at 10:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
alfredschrader

The thing it will take to make the Buffet electric car a success is something called a Strobe Drive that I invented. I'm listening to offers.....Alfred Schrader

August 01 2010 at 10:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to alfredschrader's comment
jmetcalf1955

no no. its the arc reactor that tony stark invented

August 02 2010 at 12:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
xtralucky1

Buffett is a comi....always has been always will be. Think about what hes doing.Making a battery operated car thats made in china and set to be sold in the US at the end of the year......the same year we have an oil spill in the gulf.STRANG TO ME.

August 01 2010 at 9:39 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to xtralucky1's comment
jmetcalf1955

no doubt everything is strange to you

August 02 2010 at 12:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sadams8174

Truckers are complaining about the price of fuel and say they can't make any money. si is the price to pay for the attack of oil by the Obama administration a play to help his campaign finaces. With Geroge Sorros getting a big stimulus for his Brazilian oil company and the big rigs(that are leaving the Gulf because of the moretoreum) showing up in Brazil and Warren Buffets Railroads going to get the benifit of squahing the truckers with high fuel cost. Is this the way the Democrats portray themselves? No they say it's big business and the Republicans. Yet it's people like Al Gore, Rangle, Geithner, Dodd, Frank, Kerry and the list goes on, that seem to be the true crooks. Now the revelation that the delegates at the Democratic convention were strong armed by the Party to give their vote for Obama instead of Hillary. The movie about this criminal activity is coming to a theater near you!

August 01 2010 at 9:33 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
csubastian

I don't wish for much. I would just like to receive in the mail a check for 500k to pay off my debts and be able to retire. Is that asking too much, I'll pay the taxes due on it.

July 31 2010 at 10:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to csubastian's comment
uusmyth

Do not rule out Tony Nicely at GEICO. Warren looks on Tony as a son - a brilliant son. Tony's record at GEICO has been next to phenomenal and GEICO's future remains so bright they may need "shades."

July 31 2010 at 6:47 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply