Wilbur Ross set to be named as US commerce secretary

Billionaire investor best known in Ireland for taking a stake in Bank of Ireland

US president-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate as secretary of commerce investor Wilbur Ross, who became a billionaire by acquiring and restructuring troubled companies, according to a source close to Mr Trump's transition planning.

The billionaire investor is best known in Ireland for leading a group of five investors that acquired a 35 per cent stake in Bank of Ireland in 2011 for €1.1 billion – saving it from nationalisation.

More generally he is reported to be in favour of policies that would encourage US companies to bring home large holdings of cash they might maintain abroad.

It is not clear if Mr Trump has formally offered the job to Mr Ross, who declined to comment.


Mr Ross would oversee a sprawling agency of almost 47,000 employees across the US and around the world that describes itself as “the voice of US business within the president’s cabinet”.

Aged 78, Mr Ross was a long-time Democrat who turned conservative and backed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. He emerged as an advocate for Mr Trump's trade and economic agenda when the real estate developer was still seen as a long shot against Democrat Hillary Clinton, and denounced Mr Romney for criticising Mr Trump.

New approach

In an interview with CNBC in June, Mr Ross called for “a more radical, new approach to the government” to help middle-class and lower middle-class Americans who have “not really benefited by the last 10 to 15 years of economic activity and they’re sick and tired of it”.

Mr Ross's seminal deal, starting in 2002, cobbled once iconic steel-making companies into International Steel Group, the US's then second largest integrated steel-maker. He and his backers in 2004 announced the sale of the Ohio-based firm for about $4.5 billion (€4.26bn) to Indian-born, UK-based steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, reaping more than an eightfold profit of about $2.9 billion.

Mr Ross also put together deals in the coal mining, automotive parts and textile industries among others. – Bloomberg