Retail banking veteran joins WL Ross

Fresh from closing its fourth turnaround fund on $4 billion, WL Ross has hired John Kanas, former CEO of North Fork Bancorp, to advise on investments in distressed financial services firms.

WL Ross has hired John Kanas, former chief executive of North Fork Bancorp, to advise on financial services investments.

The credit crisis and flat yield curve are shrinking lenders' profit margins and increasing the pressure for consolidation…

Wilbur Ross

“The credit crisis and flat yield curve are shrinking lenders' profit margins and increasing the pressure for consolidation, especially in the retail financial services sector,” Wilbur Ross, the firm’s chairman, said in a statement. “As a result, we have an ideal environment for John's extensive financial services deal-making and public company operating management experience, as well as his extensive contacts in the sector.”

In addition to helping identify, restructure and manage financial services investments, the firm said Kanas will co-invest in the restructurings.

“I see this partnership as a unique opportunity to extend my use of the knowledge, skills and contacts I acquired over a long career,” Kanas said in a statement.

He joined North Fork in 1971 and helped build it from a four-branch bank with $20 million in assets into a regional banking power with 360 branches and $60 billion in assets. He continues to serve as an advisor for Capital One Financial, which in 2006 acquired Long Island-based North Fork for $13.2 billion. WL Ross said Kanas’ senior advisor role will not affect his role at Capital One.

WL Ross recently closed its fourth turnaround fund on $4 billion, its first vehicle raised since becoming a part of Invesco.