Banking: Wilbur Ross chases shadows
The billionaire investor is scathing about the detrimental impact regulators and monetary policymakers have had on the financial sector. He’s calling time on investing in traditional banks and is turning his attention to non-bank specialist lenders instead.
Illustration: Kevin February
Wilbur Ross is best known for his ability to find distressed companies and turn them around for a large profit – it is a talent that has given him an estimated net worth of more than $2 billion. And in recent years Ross’s sights have been firmly set on financial companies. Since 2008 he has invested a reported $1.8 billion into banks.
But now he has had enough. NBNK Investments, the investment company in which Ross took a 30% stake in 2013 and that tried and failed to buy TSB from Lloyds, is closing. In 2010 NBNK had raised £50 million in an IPO with the aim of financing European banks. Six years later, it didn’t have a single investment to show for it.
Ross says NBNK didn’t lose money, despite media reports of a £30 million loss. “The reason we closed it is that it didn’t have enough float and trading to be an attractive way for private financial institutions to go public. We had invested in it at a price equal to the net asset value of its cash, so we about broke even on it,” he says.