Ross ranks Bank of Ireland among "best bets"

Monday 20 May 2013 15.10
Wilbur Ross and his wife Hilary Geary
Wilbur Ross and his wife Hilary Geary

US billionaire Wilbur Ross has said he ranks his investment in Bank of Ireland as one of the best he has made.

The septugenarian took a 9.9% stake in the bank two years ago alongside a consortium of other US and Canadian investors.

In total the group bought just under 35% of Bank of Ireland, keeping it out of public ownership.

Asked in a Bloomberg TV interview what his "best bet" had been in recent years he said: "I think BOI is turning out to be a very good investment. The stock is up about 80% since we helped privatise it".

Mr Ross said he was confident the approach Bank of Ireland had taken to dealing with mortgage arrears was correct and had helped the bank deal with indebted borrowers more effectively than some of its peers.

"Bank of Ireland's been very successful at modifying the mortgages, changing payment schedule, capitalising arrears - things of that sort. 86% of the mortgages they've modified are maintaining themselves on a current basis in accordance with the new terms," he said.

The company he founded, WL Ross, specialises in "turnarounds" - investing in companies which are in difficulty and reaping the benefits of helping them recover. Mr Ross said there were plenty of potential opportunities in recession-hit countries but that Ireland stood out as it was "a very unique economy".

"It's a high-tech economy...that differentiates it from most of the rest of Europe," he said.

"Ireland didn't need structural reform all it needed was to fill the hole that was left by the banking mess".