Buffett says health venture CEO pick to be announced soon

(Bloomberg)—The healthcare venture between Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon.com and JPMorgan Chase & Co. has picked the person who will lead the initiative.

“The three of us and the new CEO, we’ve basically reached agreement,” Berkshire Chief Executive Officer Warren Buffett said Thursday in an interview with CNBC, without naming the individual. “We’re just tidying up a couple of things. We should have an announcement on that matter within maybe two weeks.”

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Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., speaks at the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Buffett’s Berkshire, along with Jamie Dimon’s JPMorgan and Jeff Bezos’s Amazon, said in late January that they planned to start a joint venture to improve healthcare for their workers. While the companies didn’t give much detail at the time, the announcement prompted broad speculation and unease among investors, sending shares lower for healthcare companies, including insurers and pharmacy benefit managers.

Todd Combs, one of Buffett’s investing deputies and a board member at JPMorgan, has been working on selecting a CEO. Dimon credited him with doing the “heavy lifting” for the search.

“We have an outstanding individual—character, culture, capability, heart, mind, the whole thing,” Dimon said Thursday on CNBC.

In later reporting, CNBC cited reports suggesting that Geisinger CEO David Feinberg was the finalist for the position but a final agreement had not yet been reached.

However, Feinberg issued a statement Friday saying he planned to stay at Geisinger. Through a spokesperson, he said, "I appreciate being part of the conversation, which I believe reflects the accomplishments of the entire Geisinger team. I personally remain 100 percent committed to Geisinger and remain excited about the work we are doing and the opportunities ahead as we continue to deliver exceptional care to our patients, our members, and our communities."

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