Wilbur Ross: 'Wall' of junk bond maturities coming

The decline in junk bonds is putting pressure on higher quality corporate debt in a "daisy chain" that started with the troubles in the energy sector, billionaire distressed asset investor Wilbur Ross said Tuesday.

"There are no bids for the energy bonds. So if you have a liquidity need, you've got to sell something that there's a bid for. That's starting to bring down the rest of the market," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box," joining a growing list of high-profile investors, including Carl Icahn and Bill Gross, warning about the potential impact of a meltdown in the high-yield market.

Read MoreWhy junk bonds won't spark new crisis: BlackRock

Fitch Ratings said high-yield issuers have posted at least $1.5 billion in defaults every month for 13-straight months — that's just one month short of the streak at the peak of the 2008 financial crisis.

Companies are running out of time, Ross said, and with the Federal Reserve apparently ready to hike interest rates there are fewer options for cheap refinancing as $1.4 trillion of debt is about to come due.

"You have a wall of maturities starting in 2018, building up through 2021 [and] 2022," he said.

Ross, who's made his fortune scooping up distressed assets, said he's buying now. "We've been buying the busted bonds of some of the smaller exploration production, the shale people, because they can turn it on and turn it off."

BlackRock's iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate high-yield exchange-traded fund (HYG) declined again Monday. The ETF was down 12 percent for the year ahead of Tuesday's trading.

The sharp decline recently in junk bonds also dragged down the shares of asset managers Franklin Resources, Affiliated Managers Group, and BlackRock on concerns about their fixed-income exposure.

The market was still reeling from Third Avenue Management's decision, announced Thursday, to block further investor redemptions from its near $1 billion high-yield Focused Credit Fund, which was being liquidated.

Read MoreThird Avenue dumps CEO Barse amid turmoil

"The Third Avenue example is a little bit of an anomaly. We don't see many managers owning CCC-bonds and below bonds in daily liquid vehicles," AB Chairman Peter Kraus told "Squawk Box" in a separate interview.

"That clearly caused a surprise in the market, for a good reason," he continued, "because they owned bonds that they shouldn't have been owned in a vehicle that was that liquid. It's been limited to that quite frankly."

Shares of AB, formerly AllianceBernstein, were themselves caught up in Monday's investment firm downdraft.

"We have changed the way that we trade over the last few years to improve liquidity, be a market-maker as opposed to a market-taker, and to make sure we feel we can actually deliver the liquidity ... to investors," Kraus said.

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