Wilbur Ross invests in wind power

By Laurie Bennett

November 23, 2009 at 10:56am

Warren Buffett isn’t the only American billionaire attracted by Asia’s growing demand for energy.

Reuters reports that Wilbur Ross is leading a group planning to invest $330 million in China Longyuan Power Group, Asia’s largest wind power generator.

Longyuan is the largest wind-power generator in Asia and the fifth largest in the world. Its initial public offering may raise as much as $2.3 billion.

Wilbur Ross
Wilbur Ross

Ross is known as a bottom feeder, buying and resuscitating failed businesses in distressed industries. USA Today has called him “the ultimate contrarian investor.”

His companies extract coal from Appalachia, make textiles for clothing and furniture, and manufacture parts for the auto industry in North America, Europe and Brazil.

When federal regulators seized BankUnited in May, Ross snapped it up. WL Ross & Co. also has bought bad loans from failed Chicago bank Corus.

His comments about a coming crash for commercial real estate recently drew a sneer from real estate mogul and failed newspaper publisher Sam Zell.

For “all the new savants on commercial real estate (like) Wilbur Ross,” he said, “I find their comments … are inversely related to our knowledge of the industry.”

Ross is the ex-husband of former New York State Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey, a conservative who has stirred controversy in her opposition to health care reform. Their divorce became final in 2001, three years before Ross’s first appearance on the Forbes 400.

He’s now ranked at No. 196 on the magazine’s list of richest Americans.

Ross spent most his working years as a managing director a the Rothschild family’s investment firm. He left to start WL Ross in 2000.

When Forbes asked him what his biggest business mistake was he answered: “Waiting until I was older than 60 to go into business on my own. I should have done it sooner.”

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