Wilbur Ross says he believes his private equity operation will soon buy a bank, possibly within six to 12 months.
"We will end up with a bank, there is no doubt about that," Ross, chairman and CEO of WL Ross & Co., told CNN.
Ross already holds stakes in subprime mortgage servicing through a unit of H&R Block and American Home Mortgage Investment Corp.
Ross said his plans were delayed last year by government moves in to inject cash into the sector.
"What is important is to get access to a stable, low-cost source of funding," Ross said. "That is what we are interested in."
Ross added that private equity firms should be allowed full ownership of a bank.
"Private equity is not passive. We are not minority investors. We are control investors. That is the whole theory of private equity — adding value through better management," he said.
There are other signs of a resurgence in private interest in financials. A group of investors that includes hedge giants J.C. Flowers and Paulson & Company last week agreed to buy failed lender IndyMac for $13.9 billion.
Investment in banking has dormant since the last of the foreign sovereign wealth funds put in to big investment banks during 2008. Treasury has been filling the gap since then, largely by buying equity in the banks with the $700 billion in taxpayer bailout funding.
Oppenheimer analyst Meredith Whitney warned this week that U.S. banks will have to raise even more money in 2009 to cope with the rising stress of bad mortgage-related securities.
"From July 2007 to date, over $5 trillion worth of securities have been downgraded, but our concern here is that the pace of downgrades has only accelerated through 2008," Whitney wrote in a research note.
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