Warren Buffett is one of the world's richest men, and incontrovertibly the world's folksiest mega-billionaire. He's also old. Shares in his company, Berkshire Hathaway, cost more than $120K apiece. So the question of who succeeds Buffett is, you know, big.

David Sokol was one of the speculative favorites to land that job. Until now: he's abruptly resigned. Which has nothing, nothing, and, Berkshire Hathaway would hasten to emphasize, nothing to do with this shady stock trade he just did:

Mr. Buffett said Mr. Sokol, 54 years old, had bought 96,060 shares [of Lubrizol Corp] in January, before Berkshire reached a $9 billion deal to acquire the company. Berkshire's purchase price of $135 per share meant that Mr. Sokol's stake rose $3 million in value.

So Sokol, a well-compensated corporate executive at a publicly traded company, buys $10 million in stock with his own money; then, he urges his own company to buy the company he'd just invested in, and clears $3 million personally in the deal. This "had absolutely nothing" to do with the fact that he just abruptly resigned—Sokol said he'd been thinking about it for a long time, and was just waiting to do it "when the timing was right."

Great timing dude.

[WSJ. Photo: AP]