Wilbur Ross – who recently invested over €400 million in the Bank of Cyprus (BoC) resulting in the acquisition of 19% of the institution’s shares – is confident that the Cypriot economy holds great potential for growth.
In the first of a two-part interview with daily Phileleftheros, published on Tuesday, the US-based billionaire investor credited tourism, business and financial services, and the country’s natural resources as all being able to drive the economy forward.
Referring to the BoC as being the largest bank in Cyprus, Ross equated investing in the financial institution with acquiring “special rights” on the Cypriot economy, seeing how the prospects of both are so intimately interlinked.
Looking at the island overall, Ross pointed to the touristic and professional services sectors as being key drivers of growth. In particular, he called Cyprus an underrated tourism destination that is effectively untapped, and thus harbours huge potential for growth.
Drawing attention to the planned privatisation of national carrier Cyprus Airways, Ross expressed his hope that the new owners will possess the resources and knowledge to generate further traffic to the island.
The planned privatisation of the ports – a condition of the island’s bailout – would also help, he said, as well as the prospects opened up by the Government’s decision to license a casino resort.
Exploitation of offshore natural gas, meanwhile, could aid the transformation of the economy in the long-term.
Ross caused waves this week in proposing a new Board for the Bank of Cyprus, through which he named Josef Ackermann, former CEO of Deutsche Bank, as being an ideal candidate for the position of Chairman.
He described his “great respect” for Ackermann, and noted that his selection of Ackermann for the position of Chairman of the BoC’s Board is proof of his confidence in the Cypriot economy.