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Wilbur Ross Seeks to Beat Back Father Time

By    |   Friday, 02 March 2012 07:58 AM

Wilbur Ross, who heads W.L. Ross, one of the country’s most successful private equity firms, endeavors to keep the ball rolling at the ripe old age of 74.

W.L. Ross has earned billions of dollars investing in distressed industries, such as steel, coal, and banks. But the firm has struggled to attract money for a new fund over the past year, The New York Times reports.

Ross originally sought to raise a $4 billion fund, matching his previous offering. But that goal has been reduced by 50 percent. And as of late last year, the fund had raised only about $450 million.

Editor's Note: Meltdown on Main Street Coming, Prepare Now

Many funds have struggled to raise new money, as investors have grown more cautious.

But in Ross’ case his age plays a role, as private equity funds typically last a decade and investors want to know who will succeed him.

“It was his vision, his skill, and if you’ve got a fund that’s very dependent on that man playing that role, and he’s 74 years old, they’re looking and wondering what it’s going to be like when he’s 84 years old,” Colin Blaydon, director of the Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship at Dartmouth College, tells The Times.

Succession is a major issue at any business, particularly ones where the top dog plays an outsized role. Warren Buffett, 81, said last week that he has decided on a successor at Berkshire Hathaway, but declined to name him.

Editor's Note: Meltdown on Main Street Coming, Prepare Now

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