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What If Buffett and Icahn Retire and These 4 Investors Pick Up Their Mantle?

Tickers in this article: BRK.A BRK.B C CMG JCP YHOO

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - What if Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn retire in 2013?

While neither Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) "Oracle of Omaha" nor Icahn, who runs Icahn Enterprises (IEP) , have shown any indication of slowing, the thought is in the back of investors minds and it begs the question of who will be the next generation of Wall Street leaders

For decades, Buffett and Icahn have been a sort of yin and yang when it comes to investing style, and their outspoken ways have been a compass for many investors.

Buffett, who champions stock investments with a holding period of 'forever,' is an oft-cited as ambassador of long-term investing and his annual letter is required reading for many.

In contrast to Buffett, Icahn has never been known as a patient type. While some follow Buffett's holdings for potential stocks to pay for a child's college education, investors key in on Icahn's activity for corporate breakups, board ousters and takeovers that create instant shareholder value.

During the dot com bubble, Buffett avoided high flying tech stocks in favor of tried and true names like Coca-Cola (KO) to the scorn and then admiration of others. In the financial crisis, Buffett stepped up as the most credible advocate of equities near the stock market bottom in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers . Multi-billion dollar investments in Goldman Sachs (GS) and General Electric (GE) were seen as an example of savvy investing and public service, and put Buffett's imprimatur on both companies at a time of critical need.

Icahn, who takes a more standoffish stance with companies he invests in, nevertheless draws a similar amount of respect among investors. First called a corporate raider in the takeover of now-defunct airline TWA, Icahn's gone on to become known as a scourge of corporate cronyism, shareholder destruction and C-Suite mismanagement.

In the wake of Time Warner (TWX) and AOL's(AOL) disastrous merger, Icahn drove the breakup of the dysfunctional media monolith and his actions can be seen as driving each company's newfound success, and that of Time Warner Cable (TWC) .

Icahn's drive the split up of Motorola(MOT) and his prying on intellectual property assets were seen as a key driver of Motorola Mobility's eventual acquisition by Google(GOOG) , just as handset struggles hit the likes of Research In Motion (RIMM) and Nokia(NOK) . In 2012, Icahn's been a key to the realignment of Chesapeake Energy's (CHK) board.

Still, while Buffett and Icahn may have an enduring impact on the investing world and some of America's top companies, neither man will stay in the game forever. In 2012, Buffett and Icahn showed their biggest signs yet of transition.

Buffett formally said his son Howard would be Berkshire's value guardian and he indicated that the investing conglomerate has found a replacement for the legendary value investor.