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Wilbur Ross, Senior managing director, Rothschild NewYork

When three vulture funds voted down a settlement relating to bonds issued by failed bank Baring Brothers, it emerged that among their advisers was Wilbur Ross, senior managing director at Rothschild in New York.

The 61-year-old "bankruptcy king" of Wall Street has probably more experience than anyone else in the business of recycling other people's mistakes. Since joining Rothschild in 1976, Ross has been involved in eight of the 25 biggest bankruptcies of all time. He has helped investors pick over the remains of such operations as Drexel Burnham Lambert and Donald Trump's Taj Mahal casino, and has advised troubled companies such as Texaco, TWA, Continental Airlines, and Greyhound. He numbers such legendary corporate raiders as Donald Trump, Victor Kiam, Boone Pickins and Carl Icahn among his close friends.

In his long career, Ross has attracted a prestigious fan club. Trump, for one, has high praise for him. "He's fantastic," says Trump. "He's a wonderful guy and a financial genius. He's got a great sense of where the future lies."

Besides a steely nerve and formidable negotiating skills Ross possesses first-class analytical abilities. That has earnt him reputed annual returns of some 30% as an investor in distressed securities.

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