The profile of James Passin, an American equity-fund investor who really strikes when the iron is hot – that is, the resource boom that drives Mongolia’s economic growth to an unprecedented double-digit percentage today. His full article is available on Bloomberg Businessweek.
Passin, 41, has at least $130 million in three funds that he oversees for his employer, Firebird Management, a Manhattan firm that specializes in emerging markets. Passin controls four companies listed on the Mongolian Stock Exchange—in coal, fluorite, and real estate—as well as an undisclosed number of private enterprises. His placements make Firebird one of Mongolia’s largest and most diversified foreign private equity funds.
Until a few months ago, many other international investors shared Passin’s enthusiasm for the Mongolian market. The country, with a 17.3 percent growth rate in 2011, had the fastest-growing economy in the world. A sparsely populated nation of 3.2 million run by communists until 1990, Mongolia has discovered a bounty of natural resources. Lying on an ancient seabed, where sedimentary basins cooked carbon for millennia, the country has about 130 billion tons of coal. Iron, copper, uranium, silver, fluorite, and many other minerals are also in abundance. The estimated value of it all runs into the trillions of dollars.