Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. hired two Asia-based executives from American International Group Inc. as part of a push to expand its presence in the region, a person familiar with the matter said.
Marc Breuil, AIG’s head of country operations in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and Marcus Portbury, the regional head of casualty insurance, are joining Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire’s specialty insurance business, said the person, who requested anonymity because there was no public announcement. Breuil will lead the company’s efforts across Asia and Portbury will be head of casualty in the region, according to the person.
Buffett has said that he wants to get into commercial insurance in a big way and last year formed the unit after hiring four executives from New York-based AIG. Ajit Jain, who runs Berkshire’s namesake reinsurance operation, is overseeing the new unit. Berkshire also sells auto policies through Geico, reinsurance at General Re and other types of coverage through several smaller carriers.
“We will build a very, very significant commercial insurance operation over time,” Buffett said at Berkshire’s annual meeting in May. “I think that operation will operate with better underwriting results than competitors.”
Buffett has used the float -- or premiums held until claims are paid -- at Berkshire’s insurance operations to make stock bets and fund takeovers. He considers the businesses Berkshire’s “core” operation, even as he’s expanded in recent years by buying manufacturers, electric utilities and one of the largest railroads in the U.S.
Buffett didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment on the Asia hirings, which were reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal. Jon Diat, an AIG spokesman, confirmed the departures and declined to comment further.