Wilbur Ross looks at banks, calls commercial real estate a “time bomb”

August 27, 2009

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross said on Thursday he would consider buying banks under a newly revised proposal on private equity investment in troubled banks, but the rules should be eased further.

U.S. banking regulators on Wednesday partially retreated from a much-criticized proposal to impose new rules on private equity investment in troubled banks, aiming to encourage responsible investment in distressed banks.

The regulators lowered capital requirements and dropped or modified measures that could have required investors to kick in more capital after their initial investment. The rules will be further reviewed in six months.

In an interview with Reuters Television, Ross said the capital requirements should be lowered even further.

Under the current proposal, Ross said he still would be “in the game” and look at banks that have good local deposits. He said many of his potential targets are in Sunbelt States such as Florida, Arizona, Texas and Nevada.

Ross said the private equity industry has about $450 billion of unused capital and roughly $100 billion of that could be used to invest in banks.

Separately, Ross called the commercial real estate market the next “time bomb” that the market under-appreciates. Ross said he would be an investor in distressed commercial properties.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook

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