Trump chooses Wilbur Ross as Commerce secretary

Lending

Steve Mnuchin, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Department of the Treasury, has a long history in the housing business, but Mnuchin isn’t the only one of Trump’s latest appointments to boast such a history.

On Wednesday, Trump announced that he selected Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive and former chairman of OneWest Bank, to serve as Treasury secretary.

Trump also announced that he chose Wilbur Ross to serve lead the Department of Commerce.

Ross brings his own history in housing to his prospective role in the government.

As Trump’s announcement notes, Ross led Rothschild Inc. for 25 years, before starting an investment firm, WL Ross Co. in 2000.

With Rothschild Inc., Ross invested in the telecommunications, textiles, steel, and coal industries.

WL Ross Co. invested in the mortgage business, among other things.

In 2012, for example, WL Ross Co. sold Homeward Residential Holdings, a mortgage servicing and origination business, to Ocwen Financial for approximately $750 million.

At the time, Homeward serviced about 422,000 mortgage loans with an aggregate unpaid principal balance of over $77 billion. 

“Homeward has been profitable in each year of its existence and has also been a wonderful cash flow producer, distributing to us approximately $900 million of cash since the initial investment,” Ross said at the time. “Mortgage banking is a business of scope and scale, and we believe that the combined company will fill the void created by the ongoing departures of many banks from the overall industry.”

In 2011, Ross was featured on the cover of HousingWire Magazine after WL Ross Co. invested $100 million in mortgage originator Capital Markets Cooperative.

At the time, WL Ross Co. was also the majority owner of American Home Mortgage Servicing, which serviced more than $85 billion of primarily subprime mortgages as of September 2010.

After Ocwen acquired Homeward Residential, Ross served on Ocwen’s board of directors, until he departed in November 2014.

Over the course of his career, Ross has also been involved in a number of high-dollar real estate deals and company restructurings in the housing industry.

“Wilbur Ross is a champion of American manufacturing and knows how to help companies succeed,” Trump said in statement.

“Most importantly, he is one of the greatest negotiators I have ever met, and that comes from me, the author of The Art of the Deal,” Trump continued.

“Together, we will take on the special interests and stand up for American jobs,” Trump added. “Wilbur knows that cutting taxes for working families, reducing burdensome government regulations and unleashing America’s energy resources will strengthen our economy at a time when our country needs to see significant growth. I am proud to nominate him as Secretary of Commerce.”

Trump’s transition team also said that Ross “agrees with President-elect Trump’s plan to bring back jobs, eliminate the trade deficit and make good deals for America’s workers.”

Ross said that he is looking forward to working with Mnuchin and Trump to push Trump’s economic plan, which apparently includes privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“I am delighted to have been selected to join President-elect Trump’s Cabinet and look forward to working especially closely with Steve Mnuchin to implement the economic programs which we have developed jointly to implement the President-elect’s strategy for accelerating our economic growth,” Ross said.

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