Fortress Founder Eyes Healthcare, Transportation

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fortress Investment Group Inc (FIG.N) is looking for healthcare and transportation opportunities, areas where it already has significant investments, founder and Co-Chairman Wesley Edens said on Friday.

“There are a handful of things we are focused on right now,” Edens said during Colombia Business School’s Private Equity and Venture Capital Conference in New York, pointing to those two sectors as having a lot of promise.

Fortress is a hedge fund and private equity giant that managed $32 billion in assets at the end of its third quarter.

Edens also believes there are significant consolidation opportunities in the asset management business.

“We have put ourselves in a position as a firm to take advantage of that,” he said during his speech.

Last year, Fortress took over assets and employees D.B Zwirn, a credit firm.

Fortress has seen improvements in sales at most of its 19 portfolio companies during the fourth quarter of 2009, he said, pointing to its rail business and even its chains of small community newspapers as having improved.

“We’ve mostly seen top-line growth across the board in the past three to four months,” Edens said.

Edens had been chief executive of the group until July when Daniel Mudd, a former CEO at Fannie Mae, took that position. (Reporting by Caroline Humer; editing by Andre Grenon)