As Warren Buffett prepares to celebrate his 80th birthday this year, many are wondering who he will name as his successor at Berkshire Hathaway. While Mr. Buffett has no plans to step down as Chairman and CEO any time soon, Berkshire’s Vice Chairman Charlie Munger has identified Chinese American Li Lu as a likely candidate to take over Mr. Buffett’s role as one of Berkshire’s top investment professionals, the first possible successor to be named.

Mr. Li has already established himself as a prominent investor, investing primarily in high technology companies in Asia. He has delivered strong hedge fund returns of 26.4 percent since 1998, significantly beating the S&P 500’s growth of 2.25 percent for the same period. Additionally, he has made exceptional profits for Berkshire in the tune of $1.2 billion with his contrarian investment in Chinese battery and automaker BYD, Co.

Mr. Li’s personal story is no less impressive than his professional one. Growing up during China’s Cultural Revolution, Mr. Li lived with foster families after his parents were sent to labor camps. At age 10, he was reunited with his nuclear family but natural disaster struck in his hometown of Tangshan, killing an estimated 242,000 people, including members of previous foster families. After involvement in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, Mr. Li fled to France. Shortly thereafter, he spoke at Columbia University, where he was lauded by human-rights activists and obtained three degrees—in economics, law and business.

His career took off in 2004 when Mr. Munger provided initial capital to run his own fund. Since then, Mr. Li has attracted investor interest from notable businessmen and even the musician Sting. While his position as successor is not secured, Mr. Li considers himself fortunate to be considered part of Berkshire’s inner circle. Regardless, his journey in attaining the American dream is certainly an inspiration to all. [via The Wall Street Journal]

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