NEW YORK (Reuters) - Distressed-debt investor Wilbur Ross is taking a large bet on troubled energy debt amid a two-year global price slump, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing people familiar with the matter.

Ross' investment firm WL Ross & Co. has purchased hundreds of millions of dollars in troubled energy debt in a bid to take control of distressed oil and gas companies if they have to turn over ownership to creditors, according to the report on Saturday.

It said the firm sat out in the early downturn when others jumped on perceived bargains that continued to lose value.

WL Ross is angling to swap debt for ownership in Breitburn Energy Partners LP, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in May and has been buying debt of Permian Resources LLC, the report said.

The plan is to take control of energy companies through debt investments and acquire companies or individual assets in traditional buy outs, according to the WSJ report citing reviewed investor materials.

(Reporting by Catherine Ngai; Editing by Bill Trott)