Why Wes Edens Bets Against the Odds

Wesley Edens is not known to bet on a sure thing. The co-founder of Fortress Investment Group was among the first to go back into subprime lending not long after the housing crisis. Fortress Investment now has $3 billion to set a railroad across Florida while other investment groups are looking towards autonomous cars. Now Wes Edens is a co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, a team that hasn’t won an NBA championship in about 50 years. Now he’s bought a portion of another struggling team, soccer club Aston Villa.

Wes Edens co-founded Fortress Investment in the late 90s, and by the time the group was ready to go public in 2007 his stake was at $2.3 billion. He’d sell it off a decade later for $3.3 billion. That came about after major losses in 2007, which wasn’t uncommon for investment group. Recovery for that year meant Edens had to show up to work, everyday with the exception of four Sundays. At this time, shares dropped to less than $1. Read More on Wikiquote

What inspires choices like these for an investor who faced the potential end of his investment group? A book by Henry Flagler, founder of Standard Oil. Wes Edens said the story about trains and hotels across Florida in the 1800s inspired his railroad venture, Brightline. Now it takes passengers from Fort Lauderdale to Palm Beach, from Miami to Orlando. The idea was to bridge the gap between airports, to provide options to travelers when driving seems too taxing, and wants to expand to other cities.

Brightline has its critics, like other investments Wes Edens has made, but it doesn’t deter his instincts. In addition to buying into the Milwaukee Bucks, he’s paying for a new arena for the team. With some city and county assistance, the construction project ran about $524 million to complete. Everything from cost to the design of the arena have been scrutinized, but Edens remains convinced that it’s not just an attractive building but will play a big role in bringing new life to Milwaukee’s downtown.

While Wes Edens remains confident in his choices, he admits that happiness eludes him with his sports team and won’t be satisfied until he’s holding the Larry O’Brien trophy.

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