msnbc.com news services
updated 7/30/2010 11:59:04 AM ET 2010-07-30T15:59:04

The oft-debated question of who will take over from Warren Buffett as the investment head of Berkshire Hathaway may have moved a notch closer to resolution, according to the Wall Street Journal Friday.

In an interview with the newspaper, Berkshire Hathaway's vice-chairman Charlie Munger revealed that 44-year-old hedge fund manager Li Lu was a leading candidate to run a piece of the firm's $100 billion portfolio. The move could put Li at the front of the class to head the investment part of Buffett's role once the "Oracle of Omaha" steps down. Buffett will turn 80 next month.

"In my mind, it's a foregone conclusion," Munger told the Wall Street Journal, referring to Li becoming one of Berkshire's top investment officials. It was the first time a name has been mentioned for the investment role.

The newspaper said Buffett has asserted he's not planning to step down soon, but when he does he will likely split his job into a CEO role and an investment role.

Li declined to comment to the Wall Street Journal about the possible role. Buffett also declined to comment on Li, the paper said. Reuters said a spokesman for the company was not immediately available for comment late on Thursday.

Born in China, Li is a fund manager and investor. He was a student leader of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and later was educated in the United States at Columbia University, where, helped by financial scholarships, he earned three degrees: in economics, law and a graduate degree in business, according to the Journal.

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Video: Who could succeed Warren Buffett?

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    >>> morning for erin 's top three. we begin with some breaking news. erin , what are you looking senate.

    >> all right, willie . we have breaking news. the data everybody's waiting for all week. talking about how fast the u.s. economy grew in the second quarter. here's the thing. not as fast as you would hope. 2.4% was how quickly the u.s. economy expanded. that is weaker than had been expected which was 2.5% but most important economists cutting this forecast for a while so chafb cutting, cutting and came in even below that and follows the growth in the first quarter of 2.7% and final quarter of last year, 5.6% and seeing the recovery slow down. weakest pace of growth in about a year. on top of that, willie , they come out with a periodically revise growth for the u.s. economy . done that for three years and every single year it came out much weaker than had been expected. in fact, last year now saying the weakest economy for the u.s. since 1946 . but again, that's backward looking. here you are and weaker, companies were really the reason for that, not investing as much as people hoped and saw the market double the losses on the become of that headline.

    >> erin , tells us recession worse than we've been snoeld.

    >> yes. recession is worse than we were told and recovery not as sharply up as we had hoped. basically the way to look at this. so that's a big headline on that front, willie .

    >> all right. number two number two

    >> loop de loo. you know, all right, here's this guy. li lu . learn his face and reason, interesting report today in " wall street journal " this man born in china, parents put in labor camps in the cultural revolution , may be the success so of managing warren buffett 's money. he had about $100 billion portfolio and this guy 44 years old, the front-runner and his current number two, he says he thinks it's a foregone conclusion.

    >> wow. who is this guy? what's the deal?

    >> born in china, basically shuttered between foster families while parents put in escaped to france and then came to the united states and he's the one responsible for one of warren buffett most famous recent investments. byd. he got warren buffett into it, one of the best performing investments.

    >> that will do it.

    >> interesting story.

    >> all right. we'll remember that face. what about number one to end the week? number one

    >> what's it say there, willie ?

    >> willie 's " morning joe " with beer. hmm.

    >> well, you know --

    >> what are you driving at?

    >> it's a friday. try this instead of your regular cup of joe. before you get too worried about did economy going into a tail spin , there is a beer out there, 60% alcohol by volume . it's called start the future.

    >> wow.

    >> and because i know you were on the big bucks and you can help save the economy. you can buy a one third liter bottle for $45.

    >> wow. 60% alcohol. that's jet fuel where i come from. that is not beer.

    >> previous record holder for alcohol content in beer was 55% and that beer was called the end of the history. but this one's 60% so the future.

    >> what's it called one more time?

    >> start the future. go order it right now.

    >> start the future, done. i'll start my weekend with start the future. thanks so much. have a great weekend.

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