Wilbur Ross has made his fortunes making ballsy contrarian investment choices.
Back in the day, he bought a steel company in the US when no one else would and eventually sold it for twice his purchase price. He bought a Japanese bank in the year 2000 after it had some problems and sold it for a profit. And recently he’s been buying up some major financial organization in the US, while they are reeling from the credit crisis and sub-prime loan meltdown.
Let’s put it this way, Ross would have bought a VCR company after Blu-Ray was announced and still would have made a profit from it. But Ross’ next big bet has to do with oil, and he wants to ride ‘SpiceJet’ airlines into ‘Profittown’ (which I hear is a very expensive place).
Ross is claiming the price of oil is needlessly high right now, and that it’s a ‘bubble‘ that will soon burst. He sees the lack of long lines at gas stations and falling consumption in the US as two major signs that the price of gas is artificially inflated.
So, once he realized these oil price worries were going to come to an end sometime in the future, he went out and bought the silliest sounding Indian airline he could find – SpiceJet!
The New York Times reported on the deal in today’s edition:
On Tuesday, SpiceJet said that Mr. Ross’s firm would invest 3.45 billion rupees, or $80 million, in the company, a three-year-old, low-cost airline whose stock has dropped more than 50 percent this year. Mr. Ross will take a seat on SpiceJet’s board and said he could invest more if necessary. SpiceJet’s shareholders include the Dubai investment company Istithmar and banks including BNP Paribas, HSBC and UBS.
Wow, I’m surprised there really is an Indian airline named ‘SpiceJet’? Who would have guessed something like that would be failing – you’ve got some decent chicken tikka onboard meals and probably the hottest and most recent Bollywood in-flight movies (if they still have them). What more could you want?
NYT: Seeing Oil Bubble, A Contrarian Bets On Indian Airline, July 16, 2008