Business titan Warren Buffett released a statement today to the shareholders of his company announcing he has Stage 1 Prostate Cancer. Buffett, the chairman, CEO and primary shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway, said he will begin a two-month radiation program in mid-July, and that though his travel schedule may be restricted his usual routine should be otherwise unaffected.
Buffett, 81, said in a statement (read it here) that his condition “is not remotely life-threatening or even debilitating in any meaningful way.” With the five-year survival rate for Buffett’s diagnosis at nearly 100% according to the American Cancer Society, there is a very strong chance he will make a strong recovery.
From reports he appears to have a positive attitude. He has already chosen a successor (he has been planning on stepping down for a few years)but has not identified him yet. According to Forbes, Buffett has already added hedge fund manager’s Todd Combs and Ted Weschler to Berkshire’s staff to help prepare for his exit and manage the investment portfolio. He has also said he intends for his son Howard to take on the role of non-executive chairman.
Of course, there will now be multiple Steve Jobs comparisons as both of these men were and are iconic leaders. However, Steve Schaeffer of Forbes points out that Jobs impact on Apple products and was involved in creating in some way will go on for many more years. When Buffett leaves the company his talent, which is investing, will be a major loss for Berkshire Hathaway.
Buffett has also been very vocal about CEOs disclosing their important medical information to shareholders. It’s a material fact,” said Buffett on CNBC in 2009 of Apple’s disclosure on Jobs’ health leading up to a liver transplant. “Whether he is facing serious surgery or not is a material fact. Whether I’m facing serious surgery is a material fact. Whether Jeff Immelt is, I mean, so I think that’s important to get out. They’re going to find out about it anyway so I don’t see a big privacy issue or anything of the sort,” he said. “If I have any serious illness, or something coming up of an important nature, an operation or anything like that, I think the thing to do is just tell… the Berkshire shareholders about it,” Buffett said then.
Berkshire shares fell 1.5% in after-hours trading on the news.