Investor Wilbur Ross, who made a fortune snapping up distressed companies, said on Thursday that he expects as many as 800 more U.S. banks to fail in the next few years.

Ross, on the sidelines of an insurance conference where he spoke on Thursday, told Reuters that he includes in his tally banks that have accepted funds as part of the federal government's bailout of the financial services sector.

In total, he expects about 1,000 failures -- with roughly 200 that have failed so far, and 800 more in the next few years.

Ross, a consummate turnaround specialist, has been eyeing the sector for deals.

Earlier this year he agreed to buy more than 68 percent of First Bank & Trust Co, a Indiantown community bank with a handful of branches and $83 million in assets and $8 million equity, from Linda Post, widow of the bank's former chairman. It is a tiny deal, but the first of more takeovers by an investor known for getting in before sectors rebound.

(Reporting by Lilla Zuill; Editing by Bernard Orr)