Wilbur Ross

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Wilbur Ross
Wilbur Ross Official Portrait (cropped).jpg
39th United States Secretary of Commerce
Assumed office
February 28, 2017
President Donald Trump
Preceded by Penny Pritzker
Personal details
Born Wilbur Louis Ross, Jr.
November 28, 1937 (1937-11-28) (age 80)
Weehawken, New Jersey, U.S.
Political party Republican
Democratic (Formerly)
Spouse(s) Judith Nodine (1961–1995)
Betsy McCaughey (1995–2000)
Hilary Geary (2004–present)
Children 2 daughters (with Nodine)
Alma mater Yale University (BA)
Harvard University (MBA)
Net worth US$2.5 billion (December
2016)
[1]

Wilbur Louis Ross, Jr. (born November 28, 1937) is an American politician, investor, businessman and former banker. Ross is the 39th and current United States Secretary of Commerce since February 28, 2017.

Ross is known as the "King of Bankruptcy” for his experience in buying bankrupt companies, primarily in the manufacturing and steel industries, and later selling them for a large profit after operations improve.[2] He was known for restructuring failed companies in industries such as steel, coal, telecommunications, foreign investment and textiles.

Early life[change | change source]

Ross was born on November 28, 1937 in Weehawken, New Jersey. He grew up in suburban New Jersey. His father, Wilbur Louis Ross, Sr., was a lawyer who later became a judge, and his mother, Agnes (O'Neill), was a school teacher.

Ross earned his B.A. degree from Yale University and M.B.A. degree at Harvard University.

Business career[change | change source]

In 2002, Ross founded International Steel Group after purchasing the assets of several bankrupt steel companies.

Ross had support of the local Steelworkers Union, negotiating a deal with them to "save" Pennsylvania's steel industry.[3] Leo Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers union stated about Ross that "he was open and accessible and candid and honest and he put a lot of money back into the mills, so literally tens of thousands of jobs were saved."[4] Ross sold International Steel Group to Mittal Steel Company for $4.5 billion, half in cash and half in stock, in April 2005.[5]

Ross combined Burlington Industries and Cone Mills in 2004 to form International Textile Group. ITG operates five businesses, all of which operate under separate brand names: Cone Denim, Burlington Apparel Fabrics, Home Furnishings, Carlisle Finishing and Nano-Tex. In 2005, Ross purchased 77.3% of Safety Components International for $51.2 million.[6] In 2006, Ross merged the firm into his International Textile Group.[7]

Ross founded the International Coal Group, which was formed after several coal companies went bankrupt. The United Mine Workers of America protested the bankruptcy reorganization as it led to changes in health care and pensions for the existing employees.[8]

United States Secretary of Commerce (since 2017)[change | change source]

On November 24, 2016, it was reported by the Associated Press that Ross will be tapped for United States Secretary of Commerce by the incoming Trump Administration.[9] The Trump transition team confirmed the intent to nominate him on November 30, 2016.[10]

Ross was confirmed by the United States senate on February 27, 2017 by a 72-27 vote from the United States senate.[11] He was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence the next day.

Paradise Papers[change | change source]

In November 2017, a leaked database of documents known as the Paradise Papers revealed that after becoming commerce secretary, Ross had investments in a Navigator Holdings he once controlled that has significant business ties to a Russia which was subject to American sanctions and President Vladimir V. Putin’s son-in-law.[12][13]

Personal life[change | change source]

Ross married Judith Nodine in 1961. They had two daughters. Ross and Nodine divorced in 1995.[14] His second wife was former New York Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey. They married in 1995 and divorced in 2000.[3]

On October 9, 2004, Ross married his third wife, Hilary Geary, a society writer for Quest magazine.[15]

He now lives in Palm Beach, Florida and Washington, D.C.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Wilbur Ross, Jr". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2016-11-24. 
  2. John Parkinson (January 18, 2017). "'King of Bankruptcy' Wilbur Ross Grilled on Trade, Climate Change and Infrastructure During Confirmation Hearing". ABC News. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Byrnes, Nanette. Is Wilbur Ross Crazy?. Bloomberg Business Week. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2003-12-21/is-wilbur-ross-crazy.
  4. Arnold, Chris (December 14, 2016). "Wilbur Ross: The Best Commerce Secretary Pick Dems Could Hope For?". NPR. 
  5. Kosman, Josh (October 8, 2014). "Wilbur Ross Sells Out". The New York Post. 
  6. PRNewswire (September 26, 2005). "Wilbur Ross Buys 77.3% of Safety Components International from Zapata Corp. for $51.2 Million". Press release. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/wilbur-ross-buys-773-of-safety-components-international-from-zapata-corp-for-512-million-55325212.html.
  7. PRNewswire (August 30, 2006). "International Textile Group, Inc. and Safety Components International, Inc. Announce Agreement to Combine". Press release. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/international-textile-group-inc-and-safety-components-international-inc-announce-agreement-to-combine-56273282.html.
  8. James Dao (October 24, 2004). "Miners' Benefits Vanish With Bankruptcy Ruling". New York Times. 
  9. Boak, Josh (November 24, 2016). "Trump taps billionaire investor Ross for commerce secretary". Associated Press. Retrieved 25 November 2016. 
  10. Zarroli, Jim (November 30, 2016). "Trump Taps Billionaire Investor Wilbur Ross For Commerce Secretary". NPR. Retrieved November 30, 2016. 
  11. Egan, Matt (2017-02-27). "Wilbur Ross approved by Senate as Trump's commerce secretary". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2017-02-28. 
  12. McIntire, Mike; Chavkin, Sasha; Hamilton, Martha M. (2017-11-05). "Commerce Secretary's Offshore Ties to Putin 'Cronies'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-05. 
  13. "'Paradise Papers' documents touch Trump administration". POLITICO. Retrieved 2017-11-06. 
  14. "Wilbur Ross Fast Facts". CNN. Retrieved 24 November 2016. 
  15. Cowan, Alison Leigh (October 17, 2004). "Weddings: Hilary Geary and Wilbur Ross Jr". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-11-24. 

Other websites[change | change source]

Quotations related to Wilbur Ross at Wikiquote