Wesley R. Edens
|Education||Oregon State University|
|Occupation||Private equity investor, Hedge fund manager|
Wesley Robert Edens (born October 30, 1961) is an American businessman and private equity investor. He is a cofounder of Fortress Investment Group and founder of New Fortress Energy, Edens is also a co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, a National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, along with Marc Lasry.
Early life and education
Lehman Brothers and BlackRock
He began his career in 1987 at Lehman Brothers, where he was a partner and managing director until 1993. He then went to BlackRock's private equity division BlackRock Asset Investors, where he remained until 1997 as a partner and managing director.
Fortress Investment Group
Wes Edens was one of five principal partners — Peter (Pete) Briger, Jr., Robert (Rob) Kauffman, Randal (Randy) Nardone and Michael Edward (Mike) Novogratz — who founded Fortress Investments in 1998. Edens investment style was described in a 2007 The Wall Street Journal article as one based on "contrarian bets, creative financing and a knack for building business from investments." Fortress became the first publicly traded buyout firm on February 9, 2007 with Edens and his partners taking the company public through its initial public offering. Fortress had sold an 8% share to the public for $600 million by 2009.
By 2007 Fortress assets under management included both private equity and publicly traded alternative investment vehicles — fourteen private equity funds, four hedge funds, and two real estate vehicles, and went public. When the Japanese financial holding company, Nomura Holdings acquired 15% of Fortress for $888 million in December 2006 with proceeds going to the five principals, Edens and his partners became paper billionaires. Edens became Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors at Fortress in 2009, and helped the company, which saw its stock price fall to below one dollar after the subprime mortgage crisis, resurge by offering subprime lending. He served as Chairman of Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure Investors LLC from 2015 to May, 2016.
In January 2017 Fortress announced the creation of an eSports (professional video gaming) team called FlyQuest. The team currently has a League of Legends team that competes in the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS).
New Fortress Energy
In 2014, Edens founded New Fortress Energy, a global natural gas supply and infrastructure company. New Fortress Energy has stated that their main goals include becoming one of the world’s leading producers of carbon-free energy (focusing specifically on low-cost green hydrogen) and existing as a net-zero emissions company within ten years.
In 2019, New Fortress constructed a nearly $1 billion floating LNG terminal in Jamaica's Old Harbour Bay. The prime minister of Jamaica stated that the terminal’s presence will result in overall cheaper energy costs for the country. New Fortress Energy has been involved in multiple philanthropic projects in Jamaica after its work completion with the LNG terminal. New Fortress plans to launch a pilot program by 2021 to test the usage of hydrogen as an energy source of power generation.
Through Fortress Investment Group, Edens began operation on a privately run high-speed train line called Brightline in January 2018. Inspired by Les Standiford’s Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean, Brightline’s first line was an inter-city 67-mile route between Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida. The company is currently building a 170-mile track extension to the Orlando International Airport, which is expected to enter service in 2022. The trains are expected to travel up to 125 miles an hour and commute from Orlando’s airport to Miami in approximately three hours. The ridership target is 6.6 million passengers within its first full year of service.
By 2023, Fortress plans on constructing a second line on the West Coast, called Brightline West, connecting Las Vegas to Apple Valley, California via a 180-mile long track. This 85-minute commute aims to carry passengers at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. Trains on this line will be fully electric and run alongside Interstate 15. Brightline’s service is modeled off of Eurostar’s Paris-to-London commute. Its coach design includes white-and-blue interiors, roomy seating, and free Wi-Fi.
Springleaf Financial Services
Edens, who runs Fortress’s private equity business, was the catalyst at Fortress behind the purchase of subprime lender Springleaf Financial Services — then known as AIG's American General Finance. which made Fortress Springleaf's majority stakeholder. By 2015 the value of Springleaf Holdings Inc. had ballooned to "$3.5 billion — putting the firm’s gain at more than 27 times Fortress’s original investment of $124 million in 2010." Edens was heralded as the "new king of subprime lending" by The Wall Street Journal. Edens is chairman of the subprime lender Springleaf Financial Services — formerly known as AIG's American General Finance. Fortress acquired 80% of Springleaf in August 2010 for $125 million and used Springleaf and Nationstar to "build out a financial-services business within its private-equity unit, which manages $14.3 billion in assets."
Edens' is chairman of Nationstar Mortgage, formerly known as Centex Home Equity Company, LLC, a subprime home equity mortgage lender, which was acquired by Fortress for $575 million in 2006. In 2005 Centex was "operating in major U.S. markets in 25 states and delivered more than 33,000 homes in the United States." In 2014 Edens' connection to Nationstar Mortgage was cited by opponents of a proposed public-financing deal for the construction of a new arena the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. They advocated for more public resources to rehabilitate foreclosed homes managed by Nationstar.
In 2014 Edens and Marc Lasry purchased the Bucks from Herb Kohl for $550 million, promising to keep the team in Wisconsin and build a new arena to replace the BMO Harris Bradley Center. As of February 2018 , the NBA franchise was valued at $1.075 billion.
It was announced in July 2018 that Edens, alongside Nassef Sawiris would replace Tony Xia as co-chairmen of English soccer side Aston Villa, following the purchase of a 55% controlling stake by NSWE, a company jointly owned and controlled by Sawiris' group NNS and Edens. The club would subsequently be promoted back to the Premier League in the following season, with the new ownership given credit for addressing financial issues and making strong coaching appointments. Edens and Sawiris became 100% owners of Aston Villa in August 2019, buying out Xia's remaining shares.
Edens and his wife Lynn have four children. His youngest daughter Mallory received significant media attention following her appearance as the Milwaukee Bucks' team representative at the 2014 NBA Draft lottery and again at the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals. His hobbies include horse jumping and mountain climbing.
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- Kirchen, Rich. "Sports Business Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wes Edens ventures into eSports". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2019-12-26.
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- "Club Statement". AVFC.co.uk. 20 July 2018.
- "The stunning story of how Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens saved and transformed Aston Villa". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
- Velazquez, Matt (May 21, 2014). "Mallory Edens becomes an Internet sensation at NBA draft lottery". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
- Dicker, Don (May 20, 2015). "Mallory Edens, Milwaukee Bucks Co-Owner's Daughter, Shames Reporter Who Called Her 'Trophy Daughter'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
- "Bucks Raptors". Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
- "Mallory Edens, Bucks co-owner's daughter, trolls Drake with Pusha T shirt". sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
- Peak Performer: Milwaukee Bucks Co-owner Wes Edens Reaches New Heights -- on Mountaintops