President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Wilbur Ross Jr., a billionaire investor and turnaround specialist, as his commerce secretary.
Ross announced his selection Wednesday during a joint CNBC interview with longtime Wall Street banker Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s pick for Treasury secretary.
“Wilbur Ross is a champion of American manufacturing and knows how to help companies succeed,” Trump said in a statement announcing his choice.
“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.”
Ross, 79, is a donor and longtime associate of Trump’s, having helped him resurrect his casino company after it went bankrupt in the early 1990s.
Over the years, Ross has grown rich by buying troubled companies in industries such as steel, textiles, auto parts and coal and restructuring them, often with significant layoffs and budget cuts. He is said by Forbes to be worth $2.9 billion, making him the country’s 232nd richest person.
In 2002, he cobbled together several troubled steel companies to create the International Steel Group. He later sold the company to Mittal Steel in the Netherlands.
Ross is the chairman and chief strategy officer, as well as the founder, of the private equity firm WL Ross and Co. He later sold the company to Invesco but is still involved with it.
Among the darker chapters in his career was his involvement with the Sago Mine in West Virginia. Shortly after his company purchased the mine, an explosion there killed 12 miners.
A former Democrat, Ross has been a loyal Trump supporter who shares his skepticism about trade agreements and said in a June interview with CNBC that the U.S. needs a “more radical, new approach to government.”
His second of three wives was former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey, who authored several articles widely thought to have helped kill off Hillary Clinton’s attempt at health care reform in the 1990s.
In Wednesday’s statement, Trump also announced that he’s selected Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts for the job of deputy commerce secretary.