David A. Grogan | CNBC
Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, will not be taking questions at the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting alongside Warren Buffett as the coronavirus pandemic forces changes to the widely anticipated event.
Instead, it will be Greg Abel, Berkshire’s vice chairman of non-insurance operations, taking previously submitted questions with Buffett. Abel was promoted to his post in 2018 and is thought to be a contender to succeed Buffett one day. At last year’s meeting, Abel answered some questions from shareholders in a rare occurrence.
Buffett and Abel will be the only ones physically attending the meeting, which is scheduled for Saturday. Others will have the option of streaming it via Yahoo Finance.
For decades, Buffett and Munger fielded questions from shareholders at the company’s annual meeting without sharing the stage. Those questions ranged from their thoughts on political issues to Berkshire investments along with the future of the company’s leadership.
The meeting has become a staple in the global business community over the years, with tens of thousands of people attending. The event is also known by some as “Woodstock for Capitalists.”
But investors are especially looking forward to this year’s meeting given Buffett’s silence during the coronavirus-induced sell-off in global markets.
Usually, such declines give big investors an opportunity to buy stocks at a discount. Berkshire, for example, bought in Goldman Sachs and Bank of America during the financial crisis more than 10 years ago.
But Munger, 96, said earlier this month he and Buffett are being more conservative this time.
“We’re like the captain of a ship when the worst typhoon that’s ever happened comes,” Munger told The Wall Street Journal on April 17. “We just want to get through the typhoon, and we’d rather come out of it with a whole lot of liquidity.”
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