November 15, 2010 / 5:21 PM / 7 years ago

Berkshire to start Combs off slowly - Fortune

* New hire to manage $2 billion-$3 billion -report

* Compares to portfolio managed by GEICO executive

* Will be free to invest in all areas - report

NEW YORK, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N) will start new investment manager Todd Combs with a limited portfolio of about $2 billion to $3 billion while Buffett assesses his performance, Fortune magazine reported on Monday.

That sum is much more than Combs managed at his Castle Point fund, but smaller than the market may have expected. When Berkshire announced Combs’ hiring on Oct. 25, it said he would run “a significant portion” of Berkshire’s $100 billion-plus portfolio. [ID:nN26124525]

The article by Fortune writer Carol Loomis -- Buffett’s long-time friend and a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder -- says Combs’ portfolio would be roughly the same size as that of Lou Simpson, the famed investment manager who is retiring this year after running the portfolio of auto insurer GEICO.

Fortune reported, citing Buffett, that Combs would also be paid in a manner similar to Simpson: with salary and an incentive plan linked to outperforming the S&P 500 index over a three-year period.

    Little is known about Combs, 39, though his financial services-oriented fund has markedly outperformed its benchmark over the last five years. Fortune said, again citing Buffett, that Combs would be free to invest where he liked.

    The magazine also said there is a possibility that one or two more investment managers could be hired to work alongside Combs. There has been speculation over whether Berkshire would hire multiple investment managers -- and if so, how many -- to take over for Buffett, 80, at some point.

    For the Loomis article, click here: here (Reporting by Ben Berkowitz. Editing by Robert MacMillan)

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