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6 Things to Know About...Wilbur Ross


By Jenna Goff

Washington Week Fellow


President-elect Donald Trump has selected private equity billionaire Wilbur Ross to be his commerce secretary, a role in which Ross will serve as the liaison between Trump and the American business community. Here’s what you need to know about the man who has been dubbed the “king of bankruptcy” for his role in buying and reconstructing failing companies:


Wilbur Ross:

  1. Ross attended Yale and considered a career as a fiction writer until an internship on Wall Street sparked an interest in finance. He then went on to get an MBA from Harvard.

  2. Ross spent over 25 years as the head of Rothschild, Inc.’s bankruptcy advisory business. He represented investors in Trump’s failing Taj Mahal casino in the early 1990s.

  3. After buying a $200 million Rothschild investment fund and raking in $250 million from investors, Ross founded his own private equity firm, WL Ross & Co., in 2000. He made a name for himself by taking failing businesses that he could sink money into and then making a profit off of them once they were resurrected.

  4. Ross is perhaps most well known for two major deals. He received praise in 2002, when he brought together three failing steel companies (LTV Steel, Acme Steel and Bethlehem Steel) to create the International Steel Group, which he later sold for a grand profit to Mittal Steel in the Netherlands. Yet he was denounced in 2006 when an explosion at the Sago Mine in West Virginia, which he had bought just weeks earlier, killed 12 workers.

  5. During the recession, Ross targeted the international banking industry, investing in failing banks in England, Greece and Cyprus. He was also part of a group of investors that received a 35% stake in the Bank of Ireland at the peak of Europe’s debt crisis in 2011. He sold his stake in 2014 for triple his initial investment.

  6. Ross is reportedly worth $2.9 billion, making him the 232nd richest person in the country.

Photo via Flickr / Business & Finance

See how Trump's administration is taking shape: 

Attorney General: Jeff Sessions
Chief strategist: Stephen Bannon
Chief of staff: Reince Priebus
National Security adviser: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
CIA director: Mike Pompeo
Agriculture secretary:
Commerce secretary: Wilbur Ross
Defense secretary: Gen. James Mattis
Education secretary: Betsy DeVos
Energy secretary:
Health and Human Services secretary: Tom Price
Homeland Security secretary: Gen. John Kelly
Housing and Urban Development secretary: Ben Carson
Secretary of state:
Interior secretary:
Treasury secretary: Steven Mnuchin
Transportation secretary: Elaine Chao
Veteran Affairs secretary:
EPA administrator: Scott Pruitt