If one does much research at all on Wes Edens, founder of the Fortress Group — the first hedge fund to go public — one will be struck by his very ordinary manner. He simply does not blather or brag. At 56 years old, Wes Edens is successful by most measures: He’s a billionaire, he’s the chairman and CEO of Fortress Group, a hedge fund that he co-founded. When Fortress Group went public, it was the first hedge to go public, Wes and his co-founders became overnight billionaires. Wes was only in his mid-thirties at that time.Like so many companies in the financial world, Fortress got bit hard by the subprime lending crisis of 2007-2008. It was at this point that Wes Eden’s contrarian tendencies provided the correct answer — more subprime lending.
Fortress, at Wes’ urging, bought AIG (American General Finance) now known as Springleaf Financial Services — a subprime lender. It worked, and today, having been taken private once again by the Japanese company, SoftBank, Fortress is healthy and bigger than ever.Wes Edens’ rise has been fast and steady. After graduating from Oregon State University in 1984 and working in banking for a bit, we find him working in 1987 for Lehman Brothers where he became a partner and managing director before leaving for Black Rock Asset Investors.In 1998, Wes Edens, along with four partners, formed Fortress Investing Group.
Today, in addition to being chairman and CEO of Fortress Group, Wes is part-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team along with fellow owners Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan.One of Wes Edens’ (and Fortress’s) newest projects is the Brightline rail project. It is another first — the first privately-owned rail line in the US. Brightline’s first line (from Miami, Fl. to Ft. Lauderdale) opened in January. Just months later, on May 19, 2018, the line opened a new stretch of track to include service to West Palm Beach, Fl. Wes has indicated that he is interested in providing service between other city pairs. His criterion is simple; the distance should be too long to drive, too short to fly. Wes Edens expects the service to be profitable and pointed out the profitably of some of Amtrak’s east coast routes.