[Marxism] corporate takeover artist Wilbur Ross killed the 12 miners

Jon Flanders jonflanders at jflan.net
Wed Jan 4 11:03:17 MST 2006

from a long 2003  Business Week article on Ross. He is a "bottom
feeder", but notably also a big contributor to the Democratic Party and
someone who has been close to the Steelworkers Union, basically
negotiating a sweetheart deal with them to "save" LTV steel. His
relationship with the UMWA has not been friendly, they have bitterly
protested the bankruptcy regulations that have allowed him
to set up the International Coal Group free of unions, health care and

Jon Flanders


<<The world Ross walks in is politely called distressed investing. Less
politely, it's vulture investing. It's a corner of the finance world
dominated by big personalities who rise to prominence in times like
these, the bust after a boom. Many of the bigger players, like TCW Group
or Oaktree Capital Management LLC, look to buy up out-of-favor bonds
cheap and flip them fast for a profit, often after some of the assets
have been broken off for sale piecemeal. Others, like Leon Black's
Apollo Advisors, take long-term equity stakes.

Ross doesn't completely fit either profile. He runs two hedge funds in
addition to the private equity funds that have financed his bets on ISG,
Burlington, and others. And he usually comes into a company as a
bondholder but often surrenders some of his debt for equity, a riskier
bet with more potential payoff. Other times, he buys assets straight out
of bankruptcy court. He generally stays in at least a year and a half,
sometimes longer. But Ross is looking for a relatively quick turnaround,
a situation in which a new management or a new strategy or a cheaper way
of doing business can lead to improved returns and a fast exit, often by
selling to a larger, healthier rival. His fund agreements with investors
cover a seven-year period: four to invest, three to liquidate

And like the other denizens of this world, ultimately he makes money
from others' misfortune -- or, as Ross would say, mistakes. "What we do
is a very countercultural activity," acknowledges Ross, who in addition
to buying distressed assets takes short positions in companies he thinks
are headed for bankruptcy, profiting as their stocks decline.
"Confrontational things, admission of error, admission of defeat,
restructuring, laying people off: Those are not American ideals," he

Yet Ross sees a certain heroism in his role. He takes satisfaction, he
says, from having saved jobs in steel, for example, that otherwise would
have been lost completely. Even when he was a bankruptcy adviser, he
says he mostly worked for creditors, who were in his view the victims,
rather than management, whom he saw as the villains. He has described
himself as a "guy who likes running into burning buildings."

He doesn't look it. A short man in wire-rimmed glasses, Ross has both
the demeanor and the speaking style of an Ivy League professor. He asks
short questions but gives long answers, and there's something vaguely
patrician about the cadence of his speech. He spends his downtime at his
century-old mansion in Southampton, N.Y., and his friends include
theater owner Robert E. Nederlander and Massachusetts Senator John F.
Kerry. Lately, he has been photographed at fund-raisers with New York
socialite Hilary Geary, whom he's dating.

Twice divorced, Ross's second marriage was to Betsy McCaughey when she
was lieutenant governor of New York in the mid-1990s. McCaughey, who
came to the job as a policy expert and not as a politician, famously
switched parties to run against her former boss, Governor George E.
Pataki, a Republican. News of Ross's and McCaughey's engagement,
marriage, and split made the papers on a regular basis. The divorce
forced him to sell a collection of American Pre-Raphaelite paintings he
had spent 15 years amassing, a bitter pill that many might have had
trouble swallowing. Not Ross. He seems neither nostalgic nor angry.
Instead, he has moved happily on to contemporary photography.

Indeed, despite the immense risks he juggles every day, friends and
colleagues describe Ross as unfailingly cheerful. "I've never seen him
angry," says Nederlander, a friend, sometime business associate, and
frequent tennis opponent for 20 years. "He always has control over

On Wed, 2006-01-04 at 12:00 -0500, Louis Proyect wrote:
> (from lbo-talk)
> Thomas Seay writes:
>  > I am surprised there has been no discussion of this
>  > accident on this board.
>  >
>  > Anybody got links to good articles on it or about the
>  > attempts to unionize the mine
> The mine is run by the International Coal Group, which is controlled by
> Wilbur Ross. Ross is the same guy who put together the International Steel
> Group and bought Bethlehem, LTV, and Weirton Steel; extracted prodigious
> concessions from the Steelworkers including cuts in retiree health benefits;
> dumped the pension liabilities on the PBGC; and then sold the company for
> $4.5 billion to Lakshmi Mittal. He's now doing the same in coal. Details
> here:

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