Peter Briger Skips the Crowd, Goes His Own Way

Peter Briger is an interesting study. He’s a principal at Fortress Investment Group. He joined the Fortress board in 2006 and has been there since. Briger was offered the Co-Chairman position in August of 2009. Briger has B.A. from Princeton, and an MBA from Wharton, a school whose most famous (or infamous, take your pick) alumnus currently serves as US President. Briger worked for Goldman Sachs for 15-years, before he moved to Fortress.

An excellent article on the Motley Fool’s website, written before Softbank’s acquisition of Fortress, provides insight into Peter Briger’s way of thinking about investments, and his methods. Peter Briger likes to trade assets that almost no one wants — distressed assets. Briger is flatly superb at that game, and it’s how he built his wealth.

While at Goldman, Peter Briger co-founded a group of special assets investors group known for being tight-lipped about their investments. Those investments tended to be highly profitable. Some credited the group with generating a substantial chunk of Goldman’s revenue from about 2005-2015. One co-founder quit because he thought the $70 million Goldman was paying him wasn’t an accurate reflection of the money, he brought in.

Peter Briger and his colleagues in that exclusive group bought and sold a bewildering array of oddball assets, things like an adult beverage producer in South Korea, a power plant in the U.K., and iffy Thai auto loans. Theirs was the timeworn strategy of buying cheap and selling dear. The added twist was buying assets that mainstream capital found disreputable. It sounds so easy, but it isn’t. It’s like a status-conscious young man having the discipline to wear cheap and decidedly unattractive clothes because it allows him to save more — it doesn’t happen often.

For Peter Briger, the aftermath of the financial crisis was a field ripe for the picking. During the crisis, Briger dropped out of the ranks of the billionaires, but as noted in a 2017 article on Bloomberg, Softbank’s acquisition of Fortress Investment Group made Briger a billionaire again, and Forbes estimates his current worth at $2.2 billion.

Briger isn’t just all business though. Briger is deeply involved with the Tipping Point, a non-profit that serves needy families in San Francisco. Briger is a fan of Caliber Schools, a web of charter schools helping prepare students for tertiary education.