Buffett investing deputy Combs joins JPMorgan board

September 20, 2016 7:06 AM EDT

The logo of Dow Jones Industrial Average stock market index listed company JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is seen in Los Angeles, California, United States, in this October 12, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - Todd Combs, one of Warren Buffett's stockpicking deputies at Berkshire Hathaway Inc , has joined the board of JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM), expanding the conglomerate's already deep ties to the financial services industry.

In a statement on Tuesday, JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets, said Combs' appointment took effect on Monday. His committee assignment will be determined later.

Combs, 45, has taken a growing role at Berkshire since joining the Omaha, Nebraska-based company in 2010.

Buffett has credited him with triggering Berkshire's largest acquisition, the $32.1 billion takeover in January of aircraft parts maker Precision Castparts Corp.

"For such a young man, it's a high honor," Andy Kilpatrick, author of "Of Permanent Value: The Story of Warren Buffett," said about Combs' appointment. "It provides Combs board experience at a financial company and a platform to broaden his growth, which is important because he is a leader at Berkshire."

The appointment gives Berkshire direct ties to the three biggest U.S. banks.

It owns $5 billion of preferred stock in Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC), and has a more than $22 billion, or roughly 10 percent, stake in Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE: WFC).

Berkshire also invests in American Express Co (NYSE: AXP), Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) and US Bancorp (NYSE: USB). It reported no JPMorgan stake as of June 30.

Before joining Berkshire, Combs was a hedge fund manager at Castle Point Capital Management LLC in Connecticut.

He and Ted Weschler, Buffett's other stockpicking deputy, each manage roughly $9 billion. They are expected to take over Berkshire's investments after Buffett, 86, leaves.

"Hiring these two was one of my best moves," Buffett said in his annual shareholder letter in February.

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan's chief executive, said in a statement about Combs: "Our company and our board will benefit from his wisdom and judgment."

Other Berkshire executives have also taken outside board roles.

Greg Abel, an energy executive whom investors consider a possible future Berkshire chief executive officer, and Tracy Britt Cool, who has chaired a few Berkshire units, are directors at Kraft Heinz Co (NASDAQ: KHC), in which Berkshire has a 26.8 percent stake.

Buffett once sat on the Coca-Cola Co (NYSE: KO) and Washington Post Co boards, but left those roles to focus on Berkshire.

"Buffett and Jamie Dimon have expressed admiration for each other as business leaders," Kilpatrick said. "Buffett is trying to leave an enormous legacy, and this involves putting someone he trusts on Jamie's board."

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York and Richa Naidu in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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