Ross: Count Me In

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross says he’s not walking away from Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village despite hedge fund honcho Bill Ackman’s recent move to take control of the troubled Manhattan apartment complex.

“My interest has not changed nor has the interest of my partners,” Ross said in an e-mail to The Post. “There will be many more twists and turns before this is resolved.”

Ross first expressed interest in the 11,227-unit, middle-class housing property in January after real-estate developer Tishman Speyer defaulted on the $3 billion mortgage.

Ross, who teamed with developer LeFrak Organization and investment firm Centerbridge Partners, said his group would jump on the property when the time is right.

“We’re waiting to see what the bondholders would like to do and we’ll try to accommodate them,” he said in January.

Then, last week, Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management seemed to jump the long line of interested investors.

Ackman and Winthrop Realty Trust said on Monday they bought a key piece of the $1.4 billion second mortgage, putting them in a position to foreclose on the entity that operates the property and become StuyTown’s new owner.

Ackman said he plans to push a co-op conversion that would allow tenants to buy their apartments while also making bondholders whole on their investment. He’s expected to do this through a prepackaged bankruptcy plan.

However, Ross said he doubts a co-op conversion can save StuyTown in a way that benefits both tenants and lenders.

“The ultimate key remains the tenancy and there is an inherent conflict between their desire to get the best value possible for themselves and the desire of bondholders to maximize their recoveries,” Ross said in an e-mail.

To make lenders whole, Ackman would need to raise $3 billion from the tenants through the co-op conversion. It’s unclear how many tenants could purchase their apartments or at what price.

“It is not at all clear that tenants would find a total price in excess of $3 billion attractive,” Ross said.

Source

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