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Wilbur Ross, CEO, WL Ross & Co.

Tuesday, 12 Dec 2006 | 5:31 PM ET

Wilbur Ross, nicknamed the King of Bankruptcies by “Fortune,” built his fortune investing in distressed industries, including steel and textile mills.

The billionaire investor, who is also Chairman of International Coal Group and Senior Partner at Amvescap, told CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo why he thinks Asian tigers, private equity buyouts and bankruptcies will keep rising in 2007.

Distressed Investing
A look at distressed investing in steel, textiles and auto parts companies, with billionaire investor Wilbur Ross Jr., W.L. Ross & Co. CEO, and CNBC's Maria Bartiromo.

Ross said qualms over China’s apparent stubbornness may be unnecessary, and praised Treasury Secretary Henry "Hank" Paulson for taking a “pleasant approach” to coaxing the giant nation into the world economic community. And he says another Communist country with capitalist tastes might be alluring in the days to come: “Vietnam has China’s success in their radar scope,” and wants to work with outsiders on trade.

The billionaire mused on this year’s surge of private equity acquisitions, and sees more to come in 2007. “At the large end” of the market for publicly-traded company, he notes, “there’s an inefficiency.” Thus, “more and more institutions are despairing” of the public markets, and are seeking “alternative” investments.

Distressed Investing, Pt. 2
CNBC's Maria Bartiromo talks to billionaire investor Wilbur Ross Jr. about his partnership in Vietnam, distressed investing and his market outlook.

Bankruptcies will continue unabated through the new year, Ross believes. He points to a “huge issuance of high-yield bonds … with a high percentage [rated] B or below” as a sign “there’s going to be more defaults.” He predicts auto sales will continue to sink, and U.S. consumers will be “tapped out” – in no small part due to drawing out their home equity. Ross warns that “we’re teetering toward” a recession, and feels certain “we’ll see a rise in distressed businesses.”