Wilbur Louis Ross, Jr. is a distressed asset investor and a former investment banker known for restructuring bankrupt companies in manufacturing and steel industries. He has been nominated for United States Secretary of Commerce of Trump Administration.
Since the late 1970s, Wilbur Ross worked at the New York City office of N M Rothschild & Sons, where he spent 24 years running the bankruptcy-restructuring advisory practice. In the 1980s, Donald Trump’s three casinos in Atlantic City were under foreclosure threat from lenders. Ross, then senior managing director of Rothschild Inc., represented investors in the casino. Along with Carl Icahn, Wilbur Ross convinced bondholders to strike a deal with Trump that allowed him to keep control of the casinos. Ross started $200 million fund at Rothschild to invest in distressed assets in the late 1990s. In 2000, Ross raised $450 million to buyout the fund from Rothschild to make further investments in distressed assets and called the new firm WL Ross & Co. Amvescap (now Invesco) acquired the company in 2006 for about $375 million, but Ross remains chairman and chief strategy officer.
Wilbur Ross was born in 1937 in Weehawken, New Jersey and grew up in an affluent family. His father was a lawyer who later became a judge, and his mother was a school teacher. After graduating from Catholic college preparatory Xavier High School in Manhattan, he earned Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale College. At Yale, his faculty advisor helped him get his first summer job on Wall Street. He later earned his MBA from Harvard Business School.
Wilbur Ross was #232 of Forbes 400 in 2016 with an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion. Ross married Judith Nodine in 1961, have two daughters, but divorced in 1995. His second wife was former New York Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey – they got married in 1995 but got divorced in 2000. In 2004, he married his third wife, Hilary Geary, a society writer for Quest magazine. Ross was a democrat by upbringing and served under Bill Clinton on the board of the US-Russia Investment Fund and later under New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as the Mayor’s privatization advisor. In 1998, he put $2.25 million seed money into his then-wife Republican Betsy McCaughey Ross’ campaign and became a registered Republican in November 2016. An avid art collector, Ross owns 40 works by Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte and contemporary pieces by Chinese and Vietnamese artists.