Wilbur Ross

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Wilbur Ross
File:Wilbur Ross Official Portrait.jpg
39th United States Secretary of Commerce
Assumed office
February 28, 2017 (2017-02-28)
President Donald Trump
Preceded by Penny Pritzker
Personal details
Born Wilbur Louis Ross Jr.
(1937-11-28) November 28, 1937 (age 81)
Weehawken, NJ, U.S.
Spouse(s) Judith Nodine (1961–1995)
Betsy McCaughey (1995–2000)
Hilary Geary (2004–present)
Children 2 daughters (with Nodine)
Education Yale University (BA)
Harvard University (MBA)

Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. (November 28, 1937)[1] is an American investor and the 39th United States Secretary of Commerce since February 28, 2017.[2] He is 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.

Early life

Ross was born in Weehawken, New Jersey[1] and grew up well off in suburban New Jersey. His father was a lawyer and his mother a school teacher. He serves on the board of advisors of Yale School of Management. His second wife was former New York Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey Ross, whom he divorced in 2000.[3] He 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 B.A. 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 M.B.A. at Harvard Business School.[3]

Art collection

Ross’ entire art collection is conservatively valued at $150 million and includes pieces ranging from Western surrealists to contemporary Eastern sculptures.[4] Ross owns 25 Magrittes including some of the artist's most valuable paintings such as The Pilgrim.[4]

Rothschild Investments

"Starting in the mid-'70s, Ross built his reputation as a bankruptcy adviser. Ross saw himself as cleaning up the messy results of Michael Milken's junk-bond financings, but by 1997 he wanted to do more than just cajole others into doing it his way. For three years he ran a private-equity fund within Rothschild. But Ross couldn't invest in deals on which the firm was advising, shutting him out of one in three bankruptcies."[3]

WL Ross & Co.

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.[3] Companies in this group include American Home Mortgage Servicing, which seems to be attempting to return to profitability by modifying the loans of delinquent homeowners. The company recently added servicing of 185,000 loans from Citibank.[5] WL Ross & Co. was acquired by Amvescap (now Invesco) in 2006. [6]

International Steel Group

Wilbur Ross at first had support of the local Steelworkers Union, negotiating a deal with them to "save" Pennsylvania's steel industry.[3]

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.[7]

International Textile Group (ITG)

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.[8]

International Automotive Components Group (IAC)


Wilbur L. 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%.[9]

Collins & Aikman Europe

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.

Wilbur L. 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."[10] The Joint Venture has also bought the subsidiary of C&A in Brazil.

Safety Components International

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.[11]

Oxford Automotive

Ross owns 25% of Oxford Automotive, a French company, which is in talks to be taken over by Wagon.[12]

International Coal Group

Ross founded the International Coal Group, which has now gone public. His relationship with the UMWA has not been friendly; they have bitterly protested the bankruptcy regulations that had allowed him to set up the International Coal Group free of labor unions, health care and pensions.

Sago Mine disaster

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.[13] The Department of Labor and the State of West Virginia, as well as Congress are currently investigating the disaster.

Political activities

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.[14] In January 1998 he put $2.25 million in seed money into McCaughey Ross's campaign.[citation needed]

On March 22, 2013, Ross hosted a 2014 election fundraiser for U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at his Palm Beach, Florida estate.[15]

Organizational memberships

Ross is a member and past director of the Turnaround Management Association and the American Bankruptcy Institute[16] and a member of the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation.[17]

As of January 2012, Ross was the leader (or “Grand Swipe”) of the secret Wall Street fraternity, Kappa Beta Phi.[18]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Self-provided biographical information from Bloomberg Professional terminal.
  2. Vespa, Matt (2017-02-27), "Wilbur Ross Confirmed As Commerce Secretary", Townhall.com, retrieved 2017-03-18<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Byrnes, Nanette. "Is Wilbur Ross Crazy?". Business Week (December 22, 2003).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Chen, Liyan (8 October 2013). "Billionaire Art Collector Wilbur Ross Loves Magrittes, Paid $100 Million For His Own". Forbes.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "AHMSI Acquires 185,000 Citi Mortgages". 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Benner, Katie. "Wilbur Ross Sells Out". The Street. Retrieved 2014-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Mittal Making Progress in Takeover of Arcelor, Wilbur Ross Says". Bloomberg.com (February 16, 2006).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  8. "Ross completes ITG integration". The Business Journal of the Greater (NC) Triad Area (August 3, 2004).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Lear MediaRoom - News Releases
  10. "International Auto Components Buys Collins & Aikman Europe". International Auto Components. PR Newswire. 2005-11-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Zapata Corporation Completes Sale of 77.3% of Safety Components International, Inc. to Wilbur Ross for $51.2 Million". Houston Chronicle.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Seawright, Stephen (February 21, 2006). "American billionaire jumps Birmingham's Wagon". The Daily Telegraph (February 21, 2006).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Boyd, Roddy. "N.Y. Exec knew of problems: Ex-Honchos". New York Post (January 5, 2006).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Yale School of Management Board of Advisors: Wilbur L. Ross Jr".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Dargan, Michelle (22 March 2013). "PBers to host McConnell campaign fundraisers". Palm Beach Daily News. Retrieved 21 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Member Profile: Wilbur L. Ross, Jr".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. http://www.capmktsreg.org/committeemembers.html
  18. Roose, Kevin. "One-Percent Jokes and Plutocrats in Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society". Retrieved 19 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Penny Pritzker
United States Secretary of Commerce