Ajit Jain (born, July 23, 1951 in Orissa, India) is a businessman who currently heads several reinsurance businesses for Berkshire Hathaway and has been touted as a possible successor to Warren Buffett.
Jain's potential rivals to head up Berkshire Hathaway when Buffett departs are David L. Sokol, CEO of NetJets and Chairman of MidAmerican; Li Lu hedge fund manager of LL Investment Partners, LP, and Tony Nicely, CEO of GEICO
Jain working in Stamford, remains in close contact with Buffett.
In letters Buffett has written accompanying Berkshire's reports to shareholders, he has consistently praised Jain
In 1994: "His value to us is simply enormous."
In 2002: "I have known the details of almost every policy that Ajit has written since he came with us in 1986. ... His extraordinary discipline, of course, does not eliminate losses; it does, however, prevent foolish losses. And that's the key: Just as is the case in investing, insurers produce outstanding long-term results primarily by avoiding dumb decisions, rather than by making brilliant ones."
In 2003: "It's impossible to overstate his value to Berkshire."
In 2004: "Ajit's value to Berkshire is enormous."
In 2005: Buffett called him "an extraordinary manager."
In 2008: "Ajit came to Berkshire in 1986. Very quickly, I realized 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."
In 2009: Buffett wrote, "If Charlie, I and Ajit are ever in a sinking boat – and you can only save one of us – swim to Ajit."; also Buffett showers praise on Ajit Jain; calls him 'superstar'.
Ajit Jain was raised in India's coastal state of Orissa. He graduated in 1972 from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur with a bachelor's degree in engineering. He was a resident of the Azad Hall of Residence. He didn't take his studies very seriously, according to classmate Ronojoy Dutta. Instead, they spent hours talking about economics, sociology and the Vietnam War, often debating through the night. Vijay Trehan, another classmate, described Jain and Dutta as "class clowns in our mechanical engineering class." But considering their later careers, Trehan said, "The lesson has to be that 'not taking life too seriously' is definitely the way to go."
Jain worked for IBM in India from 1973 to 1976, and then moved to the United States, where he earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1978. He joined McKinsey & Co., but returned to India in the early 1980s. After a month long courtship, he married Tinku Jain, a girl chosen by his parents. Then he went back to the United States to work for McKinsey. According to Robert P. Miles' book The Warren Buffett CEO: Secrets from the Berkshire Hathaway Managers Jain said he would not have returned to America, but his wife wanted to move there. In 1986 he left McKinsey to work on insurance operations for Buffett. At the time, he said he knew little about the insurance business.
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