Wilbur Ross

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Wilbur Ross
Wilbur Ross.jpg
Personal details
Born Wilbur Louis Ross, Jr.
(1937-11-28) November 28, 1937 (age 79)
Weehawken, New Jersey, U.S.
Political party Republican
Democratic (Formerly)
Spouse(s) Judith Nodine (1961–1995)
Betsy McCaughey (1995–2000)
Hilary Geary (2004–present)
Children 2 daughters (with Nodine)
Alma mater Yale University (BA)
Harvard University (MBA)
Net worth US$2.5 billion (December

Wilbur Louis Ross, Jr. (born November 28, 1937) is an American investor, and former banker, known for restructuring failed companies in industries such as steel, coal, telecommunications, foreign investment and textiles. He specializes in leveraged buyouts and distressed businesses. As of August 2014, Forbes magazine lists Ross as one of the world's billionaires with a net worth of $2.9 billion.[1]

On November 24, 2016, it was reported by the Associated Press that Ross would be tapped for United States Secretary of Commerce by the incoming Trump Administration.[2] The Trump transition team confirmed the President-elect's intent to nominate him on November 30, 2016.[3]

Early life[edit]

Ross was born on November 28, 1937[4] in Weehawken, New Jersey,[5] and grew up in an affluent family in suburban New Jersey. His father, Wilbur Louis Ross, Sr., was a lawyer who later became a judge, and his mother, Agnes (O'Neill), was a school teacher.[5]

Ross drove two hours a day from New Jersey to attend the elite Catholic college preparatory Xavier High School in Manhattan. He ran track and was captain of the rifle team. He earned a BA degree from Yale College, which was also his father's alma mater. At Yale, Ross edited one of the literary magazines and worked at the radio station. Initially, he wanted to be a writer, but after his experience in a fiction class requiring 500 words daily, he concluded that he had "run out of material." His faculty adviser at Yale helped him get his first summer job on Wall Street. He earned his MBA degree at Harvard Business School.[6]

Art collection[edit]

Ross's art collection is conservatively valued at $150 million and includes pieces ranging from Western surrealists to contemporary Eastern sculptures.[7] Ross owns twenty-five works by René Magritte including some of the artist's most valuable paintings such as The Pilgrim.[7]


Rothschild Investments[edit]

In the late seventies, Ross began twenty-four years at the New York office of Rothschild Inc., where he ran the bankruptcy-restructuring advisory practice. In the eighties, after quickly expanding the reach of Resorts International to Atlantic City, Donald Trump found himself in financial trouble as the real estate market in New York City bottomed-out. His three casinos in Atlantic City were under threat from lenders. It was with the assistance and assurance of Ross, then senior managing director of Rothschild Inc., that Trump was allowed to keep the casinos and rebuild his businesses.[8] In the late nineties, Ross started a $200 million fund at Rothschild to invest in distressed assets. As the U.S. bubble began to burst, he decided he wanted to invest more and advise less. On April Fools’ Day 2000, the 62-year-old banker raised $450 million to plunge into fallen companies.[5]

WL Ross & Co.[edit]

In 2000, Ross bought out his equity fund and opened WL Ross & Co. in New York with $440 million in investor money and a staff that included four top managers who, along with Ross, make up the firm's investment committee: David H. Storper, who runs trading; David L. Wax, a longtime workout specialist; Stephen J. Toy, an Asia expert; and Pamela K. Wilson, a J.P. Morgan & Co. veteran.[6] WL Ross & Co. was acquired by Amvescap (now Invesco) in 2006.[9]

International Steel Group[edit]

Wilbur Ross at first had support of the local Steelworkers Union, negotiating a deal with them to "save" Pennsylvania's steel industry.[6]

Ross sold the Richfield, Ohio-based International Steel Group to Mittal Steel Company for $4.5 billion April 2005. As of 10 months later, Ross had not sold any of his Mittal shares.[10]

International Textile Group (ITG)[edit]

Ross combined Burlington Industries and Cone Mills in 2004 to form International Textile Group. ITG operates five businesses, all of which operate under separate brand names: Cone Denim, Burlington Apparel Fabrics, Home Furnishings, Carlisle Finishing and Nano-Tex. The company entered into a five-year, $150 million credit facility led by Bank of America. Other lenders in the bank group included GE Capital and CIT Group. Corporate offices are located in Greensboro in the previous Cone Mills headquarters building and in an adjacent office complex.[11]

International Automotive Components Group (IAC)[edit]


Ross, Chairman of International Automotive Components Group ("IAC"), announced on Oct 16, 2006 the completion of the previously announced acquisition of Lear Corporation's European Interiors Systems Division on a debt-free basis in exchange for 34% of the stock in IAC. The transaction will expand IAC's presence in Europe to 20 facilities in 9 countries with approximately $1.2 billion in annual revenues. In early 2007, Lear completed the transfer of substantially all of its former North American Interior Systems Division to International Automotive Components Group North America. The deal involved 26 manufacturing plants and two Chinese joint ventures. Lear also contributed $27 million in cash for a 25% interest in IAC North America and warrants for an additional 7%.[12]

Collins & Aikman Europe[edit]

On November 28, 2005 the joint venture by Ross, Franklin Mutual Advisers, and Lear Corporation, announced an agreement to acquire from Collins & Aikman Europe ("C&A") its $600 million operations in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom serving Ford, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, Porsche, Saab, Volkswagen, Volvo and other original equipment manufacturers. The exchange is subject to approval of the local insolvency authority and the Austrian Court.

Ross, Chairman of IAC said, "We are delighted to make IAC's first acquisition within a month of announcing the joint venture company. We also are appreciative that the automobile industry has decided to support our efforts. This is the start of a major global factor in the automotive interior plastics industry."[13] The Joint Venture has also bought the subsidiary of C&A in Brazil.

Safety Components International[edit]

On December 2, 2005, Zapata Corp. Chairman, Avie Glazer, announced the sale of 4,162,394 shares, 77.3%, of Safety Components International to Ross for $51.2 million. Safety Components, an independent manufacturer of air bag fabrics and cushions, is headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina, USA and has plants in North America, Europe, China, and South Africa.[14]

Oxford Automotive[edit]

Ross owns 25% of Oxford Automotive, a French company, which is in talks to be taken over by Wagon.[15]

International Coal Group[edit]

Ross founded the International Coal Group, which has now gone public. The United Mine Workers of America has protested the bankruptcy regulations that had allowed him to set up the International Coal Group free of labor unions, health care, and pensions.[citation needed]


In February 2014, Ross settled a lawsuit brought by investors in South Carolina for $81 million.[citation needed]

In August 2016, Ross agreed to reimburse investors $11.8 million and pay a fine of $2.3 million to settle a Securities and Exchange Commission probe into the company’s misappropriation of fees.[citation needed]

Sago Mine disaster[edit]

Following the Sago Mine disaster, the New York Post's Roddy Boyd reported that Ross "had been intimately involved with the company that owned the West Virginia mine where 12 miners perished — and he knew all about its safety problems, former executives charged." The article also reported that the mine had 12 roof collapses in 2005, and that the U.S. Department of Labor data showed 208 citations for safety violations in that same period, including 21 times for build-up of toxic gasses. Despite these figures, Ross refused to shut down the mine.[16] The Department of Labor and the State of West Virginia, as well as Congress, are currently investigating the disaster.

Political activities[edit]

Ross served under U.S. President Bill Clinton on the board of the U.S.-Russia Investment Fund, and later, under New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as the Mayor's privatization advisor.[17] In January 1998 he put $2.25 million in seed money into McCaughey Ross's campaign.[citation needed] Although he was an early supporter of Donald J. Trump's presidential campaign, Ross in earlier years was a registered Democrat, served as an officer of the New York State Democratic Party, and held fundraisers for Democratic candidates at his apartment in New York City. Since at least 2011, Ross began donating to Republican candidates and organizations, and became a registered Republican in November 2016.[18]

Organizational memberships and directorships[edit]

Ross is a member and past director of the Turnaround Management Association and the American Bankruptcy Institute[19] and a member of the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation.[20]

As of January 2012, Ross was the leader (or “Grand Swipe”) of the secret Wall Street fraternity, Kappa Beta Phi.[21]

He serves on the board of trustees of the Brookings Institution[22] and the board of advisors of Yale School of Management. He donated $10 million for the construction of Evans Hall at the Yale School of Management.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Ross married Judith Nodine in 1961; they had two daughters, and divorced in 1995.[24] His second wife was former New York Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey; they married in 1995, and divorced in 2000.[6][24]

On October 9, 2004, Ross married his third wife, Hilary Geary, a society writer for Quest magazine.[25]


  1. ^ a b "Wilbur Ross, Jr". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2016-11-24. 
  2. ^ Boak, Josh (November 24, 2016). "Trump taps billionaire investor Ross for commerce secretary". Associated Press. Retrieved 25 November 2016. 
  3. ^ Zarroli, Jim (November 30, 2016). "Trump Taps Billionaire Investor Wilbur Ross For Commerce Secretary". NPR. Retrieved November 30, 2016. 
  4. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica Almanac 2010. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2010. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-61535-329-3. 
  5. ^ a b c Gross, Daniel (8 November 2004). "The Bottom Feeder King". New York. 37 (39): 22. Archived from the original on 29 November 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d Byrnes, Nanette. "Is Wilbur Ross Crazy?". Business Week (December 22, 2003). 
  7. ^ a b Chen, Liyan (8 October 2013). "Billionaire Art Collector Wilbur Ross Loves Magrittes, Paid $100 Million For His Own". Forbes. 
  8. ^ Collins, JC. "How Rothschild Inc. Saved Donald Trump". PhilosophyOfMetrics.com. Philosophy of Metrics. Retrieved 22 November 2016. 
  9. ^ Benner, Katie. "Wilbur Ross Sells Out". The Street. Retrieved 2014-10-08. 
  10. ^ "Mittal Making Progress in Takeover of Arcelor, Wilbur Ross Says". Bloomberg.com (February 16, 2006). [dead link]
  11. ^ "Ross completes ITG integration". The Business Journal of the Greater (NC) Triad Area (August 3, 2004). 
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 October 2007. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  13. ^ "International Auto Components Buys Collins & Aikman Europe". International Auto Components. PR Newswire. 2005-11-28. 
  14. ^ "Zapata Corporation Completes Sale of 77.3% of Safety Components International, Inc. to Wilbur Ross for $51.2 Million". Houston Chronicle. 
  15. ^ Seawright, Stephen (February 21, 2006). "American billionaire jumps Birmingham's Wagon". The Daily Telegraph (February 21, 2006). 
  16. ^ Boyd, Roddy. "N.Y. Exec knew of problems: Ex-Honchos". New York Post (January 5, 2006). 
  17. ^ "Yale School of Management | Educating Leaders for Business and Society". Mba.yale.edu. 2016-11-18. Retrieved 2016-11-24. 
  18. ^ "Trump Commerce Pick Ross Was Registered Democrat Until Mid-Nov.". www.newsmax.com. 2016-11-30. Retrieved 2016-12-12. 
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 2006-02-27. 
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  21. ^ Roose, Kevin. "One-Percent Jokes and Plutocrats in Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society". Nymag.com. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  22. ^ "Board of Trustees". Brookings. Retrieved 2016-12-20. 
  23. ^ http://news.yale.edu/2016/12/05/three-yale-alums-among-trump-s-cabinet-picks
  24. ^ a b "Wilbur Ross Fast Facts". CNN. Retrieved 24 November 2016. 
  25. ^ Cowan, Alison Leigh (October 17, 2004). "Weddings: Hilary Geary and Wilbur Ross Jr.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-11-24. 

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