Wilbur Ross says Bank of Cyprus may shift public listing to LSE

Bank of Cyprus is considering a move from the Athens Stock Exchange to London because of a lack of liquidity and negative perception of Greece, said Wilbur Ross, head of WL Ross & Co, one of the bank’s largest shareholders.

“It feels to people like a Greek stock,” Ross said during his keynote speech at Buyouts Chicago conference Tuesday. “Hopefully [a move to the London Stock Exchange] will change people’s perception.”

Bank of Cyprus closed trading Tuesday at 0.21 euros per share. WL Ross invested in Bank of Cyprus in 2014 along with other international investors. Last year the bank hired former Deutsche Bank chairman Josef Ackerman to serve as non-executive chairman.

Ross, who received a lifetime achievement award at the conference, talked about other areas of weakness in the global economy where the firm is finding opportunities.

The firm has been targeting the “broken bonds” of small oil and gas production and exploration companies in the U.S., Ross said.

“A lot of those [oil and gas exploration and production companies] have become orphan, many of them are illiquid,” he said. “Illiquidity frequently leads to undervaluation.”

The firm believes the price of oil will stablize at around $65 a barrel in the next year or two, he said. “At that level there’s enough incremental supply to profitably meet the decline curve in global production and the small amount of demand growth for oil,” Ross said.

The firm also has in the past few months put around $2 billion into marine transport, another industry with problems, Ross said.

Meanwhile Ross, who is 77, said he has been gradually transitioning out of day-to-day leadership of the firm he started. He said his role now is more strategic.Greg Stoeckle and Stephen Toy co-lead daily operations at WL Ross & Co.

“It’s evolving that way because I’d like the firm to live on forever,” Ross said. “That won’t work if it’s just me.”

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Tim Chong