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5 CEOs Who Are More Raccoonish Than Welfare Recipients

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ON THE CAMPAIGN TAIL
DailyFeed


While delivering a campaign speech last weekend, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who is expected to win the GOP primary in a bid for the seat currently held by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), equated poor people with scavenging raccoons.



But, there are plenty of rich guys out there who earn their livings as scavengers. However, demonizing buyers of distressed debt, fund managers who specialize in troubled assets, acquiring bankrupt companies that exist in what Daniel Gross once described as "the Greyhound bus terminal of corporate America -- a dimly lit hall peopled by hard-luck losers, duped lenders, congenital screwups, and, occasionally, powerless victims of vast global forces," doesn't win votes quite like going after the less fortunate.

Here are our five picks for "unlikeliest scavengers to be mentioned by Jon Bruning this election season":

1. WILBUR ROSS, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, W.L. ROSS & CO.



"To his critics, he is the archetypal vulture investor -- preying on the misfortune of others. To his supporters, of whom there are a surprising number even in the US union movement, he is a brave turnaround expert who can breathe new life into companies others have given up on."


2. PHIL FALCONE, FOUNDER, HARBINGER CAPITAL PARTNERS



Described by Businessweek in 2008 as "The Midas of Misery," Falcone's "strategies are emblematic of those employed by an increasingly muscular breed of vulture investors. Stephen Feinberg of Cerberus Capital Management, Wilbur Ross of W.L. Ross & Co., and others have higher profiles than ever before. Now Falcone has soared into the top tier of the vulture game with a suddenness that commands attention from his rivals. 'There's substance to him,' says veteran Ross. 'He will be a long-term player.'"


3. ANDY BEAL, CHAIRMAN, BEAL FINANCIAL CORP



"It was 1981, and Beal, then a 29-year-old vulture investor, was scoping out two 16-story apartment buildings owned by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The bricks were chipped and bulging off the exterior of the buildings. Tenants had pried open the elevator doors and thrown furniture down the shafts.

"Beal liked what he saw."


4.
STEVE FREDRICKSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, PORTFOLIO RECOVERY ASSOCIATES



"Our debt-purchase business has come through a very interesting time with all the charged-off accounts, with all of the distressed financial accounts that have arisen as a result of the economic slowdown. The buying of distressed accounts has been pretty substantial for us, so we feel as though we're in kind of a sweet spot right now in terms of acquiring that inventory."


5. HOWARD MARKS, CHAIRMAN, OAKTREE CAPITAL



"Mr. Marks is a former banker who became a pioneer in the graveyard of Wall Street. He is one of the biggest players in distressed investing -- putting money into risky investments that few others will touch."

Of course, while Bruning's words are ugly, uglier still is the situation for those on the receiving end of Bruning's scorn as long-term economic misery becomes a systemic part of American life.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.

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