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Profile of Wilbur Ross

Fantastic profile of Wilbur Ross by The Deal. The interview goes in depth into his background, how he got his start, discusses some of his largest deals, and some thoughts on Europe and defaulted municipalities.

Some tidbits of wisdom:

“It is better to invest in a mediocre idea that is brilliantly executed than in a brilliant idea that is less well executed.”

“Companies that were under pressure for many years tend to develop a loser’s mentality. You ask them, “What’s wrong with the company?” They always talk about the union, China, unfair competition, class-action suits. It’s always something outside of their control, never things that they can fix. They sit there having convinced themselves it’s not their fault. Thinking outside the box is important to turn a company around.”

“Big companies, particularly those that are well run, tend to set out on a blithe path. Well, if you’re bleeding, you really need to have a sense of urgency. That’s why we like to bring in management early in the process, so that they run it from day one when we take control.”

He also comments on something a lot of equity investors struggle with – how to value banks:

“I believe that it is impossible to judge the validity of their book value without getting inside. Loan-loss provisions are inherently judgment calls that must be made on a granular, loan-by-loan basis. This is only possible in the context of confidentiality agreements and detailed study by experts.”