Hedge Fund Manager Li Lu Tapped As Possible Buffett Successor

Jul 30 2010 | 1:29pm ET

With succession in mind, one of the world’s most famous investors is poised to hire a hedge fund manager to help him run his firm’s portfolio.

Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett plans to hire hedge fund manager Li Lu, a student leader of the Tiananmen Square democracy protests in 1989, The Wall Street Journal reports. The 44-year-old Li is believed to be the leading contender to take over management of Berkshire’s $100 million portfolio when the 80-year-old Buffett retires.

“In my mind, it’s a foregone conclusion,” Berkshire Chairman Charlie Munger said of Li’s hiring. Li and Munger are longtime friends.

Li founded his hedge fund, Himalaya Partners, in 1997, and has since founded a technology venture capital fund. The former dissident, who escaped to France and then to the U.S. in the wake of the Chinese crackdown following Tiananmen, has already earned Berkshire about $1.2 billion after introducing Munger to Chinese battery and auto maker BYD Co.

That investment helped Himalaya post a 26.4% compound annualized return since 1998. But the Journal warns that, aside from the BYD investment, Himalaya’s performance is “unremarkable.” The fund, which soared 200% last year in no small part due to BYD, is down 13% this year.

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