Wes Edens, Noted Private Equity Investor, Presses On After Two Successful Decades

A noted businessman, private equity investor and alternative asset manager with a net worth of more than $1 billion, Wes Edens is primarily known for his co-founding of investment management firm Fortress Investment Group, as well as his co-ownership of NBA franchise the Milwaukee Bucks. The holder of a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Business Administration from Oregon State University, Edens launched his investment career at Lehman Brothers before moving to BlackRock, becoming a partner and managing director at both firms. In 1998, along with four other principal partners, Wes Edens founded Fortress Investment Group. Gaining a reputation for counterintuitive yet successful investment strategies and parlaying speculative investments into fully operational businesses with established cash flow.

Eden’s firm would be the subject of one of the most highly anticipated initial public offerings in New York Stock Exchange history, owing both to its status as the first large private equity firm and the first buyout firm to be publicly traded.The highly successful IPO run would make Edens and many of Fortress’ co-founders billionaires. The firm currently manages upwards of $70 billion in assets and employs more than 2500 workers, while maintaining ownership of numerous subsidiaries largely specializing in the real estate market. Edens in 2009 was tapped to co-chair Fortress’ Board of Directors and was integral, following the subprime mortgage crisis, to the rebounding of the firm’s stock value which had dipped below $1.

Edens had been the driving force behind Fortress’ purchase of subprime lender Springleaf Financial Service, which saw its value balloon from the original purchase price of $124 million to $3.5 billion between 2010 and 2015. This success would lead to Edens being called the “new king of subprime lending” by the Wall Street Journal. In 2014, Edens, along with hedge fund manager Marc Lasry, purchased the Milwaukee Bucks for $550 million. They are currently overseeing construction of a $524 million sporting and performance arena in downtown Milwaukee tentatively called the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. Completion of the project is expected in 2018, with the first performances slated for September of that year.