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Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross: Cyprus, The Next One to Really Turn Around

July 29, 2014

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross (Trades, Portfolio) spoke with FOX Business Network’s (FBN) Maria Bartiromo during Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo about investing in the Bank of Cyprus. Ross said, “Cyprus, we think is going to be the next one to really turn around” and that “there has been a very big upsurge in Russian tourism to Cyprus.” When asked about whether he thinks Europe has recovered financially Ross said, “I think it is a selective recovery” and that “we’ve been buying a lot in Europe.”

Excerpts from the interview are below.

On investing in the Bank of Cyprus given the conflict between Russia and Ukraine:

“Well actually there has been a very big upsurge in Russian tourism to Cyprus because people are concerned with what’s going on there and it’s a very good place to go. A lot of the restaurants have waiters who speak Russian - menus in Russian, things of that sort, so a lot of middle class Russians and Ukrainians vacation in Cyprus.”

On whether he would be interested in selling the Russian piece of the Bank of Cyprus:

Well it’s early days, so we have to figure out what to do, but clearly when they are in the middle of the war it’s not the right time.”

On whether Europe has recovered financially:

“Well I think it is a selective recovery, nobody has ever introduced themselves to me as a European. They introduce themselves as French, German or Italian or what have you, so when you talk about Europe you really have to go country by country. U.K. was not very hard hit by the recession and has recovered very well - property values especially in London have gone up a lot. Ireland as you can see from the recent figures is coming up very, very well from their terrible collapse of their own banks. Greece was on a slower track then those and that’s why we waited till a few weeks ago to go into Eurobank there and now Cyprus, we think is going to be the next one to really turn around.”

On whether he has been buying more in Europe and selling more in United States:

“Yes, we’ve been buying a lot in Europe because being at an earlier stage of recovery and that’s where there are idiosyncratically depressed situations. The U.S. has a reasonably healthy economy for the last few years; markets at all-time highs, so it shouldn’t be too surprising and it’s hard to find inexpensive things here.”

On his expectations for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) number:

“I think you will see some rebound because there was some deferral of purchasing from bad weather in the first quarter, but I don’t think it’s going to shoot the lights out and my guess for the full year it comes in somewhere under the 3 percent of level.”

On European Central Bank President Mario Draghi expected to do a stimulus similar to what the Federal Reserve has been doing:

Right, well Draghi has been amazing in that for about one year after he said he would do whatever is needed he didn’t have to do anything, so he is a good talker, maybe better than our Federal Reserve chiefs have tended to be.”


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