The Blackstone Group L.P. is an American multinational private equity, alternative asset management and financial services firm based in New York City. As the largest alternative investment firm in the world, Blackstone specializes in private equity, credit and hedge fund investment strategies. As of September 30th, 2017 Blackstone has $387 billion under management.
Blackstone's private equity business has been one of the largest investors in leveraged buyout transactions over the last decade, while its real estate business has actively acquired commercial real estate. Since its inception, Blackstone has completed investments in such notable companies as Hilton Worldwide, Merlin Entertainments Group, Performance Food Group, Equity Office Properties, Republic Services, AlliedBarton, United Biscuits, Freescale Semiconductor, Vivint, and Travelport.
Blackstone was founded in 1985 as a mergers and acquisitions boutique by Peter G. Peterson and Stephen A. Schwarzman, who had previously worked together at Lehman Brothers, Kuhn, Loeb Inc. Over the course of two decades, Blackstone has evolved into one of the world's largest private equity investment firms. In 2007, Blackstone completed a $4 billion initial public offering to become one of the first major private equity firms to list shares in its management company on a public exchange. Blackstone is headquartered at 345 Park Avenue in Manhattan, New York City, with eight additional offices in the United States, as well as offices in London, Paris, Düsseldorf, Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, Madrid, Mumbai, and Dubai.
Blackstone is organized into four business segments:
As of 2011, Blackstone is the world's fifth-largest private equity firm by committed capital, focusing primarily on leveraged buyouts of more mature companies. The firm also invests through minority investments, corporate partnerships, and industry consolidations, and occasionally, start-up investments in new entrants into existing industries. The firm focuses on friendly investments in large capitalization companies.
Blackstone's private equity business employs approximately 120 investment employees in New York City; London; Menlo Park, California; Mumbai; Hong Kong; and Beijing.
Historically, Blackstone has primarily relied on private equity funds, pools of committed capital from pension funds, insurance companies, endowments, fund of funds, high-net-worth individuals, sovereign wealth funds, and other institutional investors. As of the end of 2008, Blackstone had completed fundraising for six funds with total investor commitments of over $36 billion, including five traditional private equity fund and a separate fund focusing on telecommunications investments.
Below is a summary of Blackstone's private equity funds raised from its inception through the beginning of 2009:
From 1987 to the time of its IPO filing in 2007, Blackstone invested approximately $20 billion in capital in 109 private equity transactions.
Blackstone's most notable investments include Allied Waste, AlliedBarton Security Services, Graham Packaging, Celanese, Nalco, HealthMarkets, Houghton Mifflin, American Axle, TRW Automotive, Catalent Pharma Solutions, Prime Hospitality, Legoland, Madame Tussauds, Luxury Resorts (LXR), Pinnacle Foods, Hilton Hotels Corporation, Apria Healthcare, Travelport, The Weather Channel (United States) and The PortAventura Resort. In 2009 Blackstone purchased Busch Entertainment (comprising the Sea World Parks, Busch Garden Parks and the 2 water parks).
In 2012, Blackstone acquired a controlling interest in Utah-based Vivint, Inc., a home automation, security, and energy company.
Former notable investments include Universal Studios Parks, which was sold to Comcast.
Blackstone began building its real estate investment business in 1992 with the acquisition of a series of hotel businesses and has built it into a global operation with 122 investment professionals in the United States, Europe and Asia. The real estate business has raised approximately $28 billion for a variety of fund vehicles, including six US-focused funds and three International opportunity funds. Blackstone also raised a real estate special situations fund focusing on non-controlling debt and equity investment opportunities. The special situations fund invests directly in real estate as well as private and publicly traded real estate-related securities.
The following is a summary of Blackstone's real estate funds raised from inception through November 2009:
From 1987 through the time of its IPO filing in 2007, Blackstone invested more than $13 billion in 212 real estate transactions and is a major owner of real estate throughout the US and Europe. Blackstone's most notable real estate investments have included Equity Office Properties, Hilton Hotels Corporation, Trizec Properties, Center Parcs UK, La Quinta Inns & Suites, Motel 6, Wyndham Worldwide, Southern Cross Healthcare and Vicinity Centres.
The purchase and subsequent profitable IPO of Southern Cross led to controversy in the UK. Part of the purchase involved splitting the business into a property company, NHP, and a care home business, which Blackstone claimed would become "the leading company in the elderly care market". In May 2011, Southern Cross, now independent, was almost bankrupt, jeopardising 31,000 elderly residents in 750 care homes. It denied blame, although Blackstone was widely accused in the media for selling on the company with an unsustainable business model and crippled with an impossible sale and leaseback strategy.
After the subprime mortgage crisis, Blackstone Group LP has bought more than $5.5 billion single-family homes for rent, to be sold when the prices rise.
Blackstone has agreed to sell a selection of Northern California office buildings for the sum of $3.5 billion, in the latest sale of real estate by the firm.
In 1990, Blackstone created a fund of hedge funds business to manage the internal assets for Blackstone and its senior managers. Over the years, this business evolved into Blackstone's marketable alternative asset management segment, which was opened to institutional investors. Among the investments included in this segment are funds of hedge funds, mezzanine funds, senior debt vehicles, proprietary hedge funds and closed-end mutual funds.
In March 2008, Blackstone acquired GSO Capital Partners, a credit-oriented alternative asset manager, for $620 million in cash and stock and up to $310 million through an earnout over the next five years based on certain earnings targets. The combination of Blackstone and GSO created one of the largest credit platforms in the alternative asset management business, with over $21 billion of total assets under management. GSO was founded in 2005 by Bennett Goodman, Tripp Smith and Doug Ostrover. The GSO team had previously managed the leveraged finance businesses at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and later Credit Suisse First Boston, after the acquisition of DLJ. Blackstone had existing relationships with the GSO team as an original investor in GSO's funds. Following the completion of the acquisition, Blackstone merged GSO's operations with its existing debt investment operations.
Blackstone's financial advisory business is composed of three businesses:
Blackstone was founded by Peterson and Schwarzman in 1985 as a boutique investment banking firm that provides mergers and acquisitions advisory services. Among Blackstone's most notable corporate and mergers and acquisitions, advisory clients include Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Verizon, Comcast, Sony and AIG.
In 1991, with the collapse of the 1980s buyout boom, Blackstone began to offer advisory services in corporate restructurings as well. Blackstone's most notable restructuring clients have included General Motors Xerox, Enron, Bally Total Fitness and Global Crossing.
Blackstone's fund placement advisory group, The Park Hill Group, was formed in 2005 with a team of professionals from Atlantic-Pacific Capital and Credit Suisse. The group focuses on raising capital from institutional investors for private investment vehicles that invest in private equity, mezzanine, real estate, venture capital, and hedge funds. Park Hill Group also provides secondary advisory services to investors seeking portfolio liquidity and unfunded commitment relief.
In 2006 John Studzinski joined The Blackstone Group as the senior managing director in its investment and advisory group and as a member of the firm's executive committee. He was recruited to oversee and develop Blackstone’s mergers-and-acquisitions advisory business, Blackstone Advisory Partners, in the United States and Europe, and to open an office in London. His primary role as global head of Blackstone Advisory Partners was to oversee Blackstone's corporate M&A advisory services business in the U.S., and further develop the corporate M&A advisory business in Europe and Asia. In early 2015, Blackstone began spinning off three of its divisions, including its M&A advisory group, to avoid any potential conflicts of interest with its primary private-equity business. After assisting with the transition, Studzinski became Vice Chairman of Investor Relations and Business Development at The Blackstone Group. In this capacity, he holds responsibility for a number of sovereign and international institutional relationships, as well as ultra high-net-worth families outside the U.S.
The Blackstone Group was founded in 1985 by Peter G. Peterson and Stephen A. Schwarzman with $400,000 in seed capital. The founders named their firm "Blackstone", which was a cryptogram derived from the names of the two founders (Schwarzman and Peterson): "Schwarz" is German for "black"; "Peter", or "Petra" in Greek, means "stone" or "rock". The two founders had previously worked together at Lehman Brothers, Kuhn, Loeb Inc. At Lehman, Schwarzman served as head of Lehman Brothers' global mergers and acquisitions business. Prominent investment banker Roger C. Altman, another Lehman veteran, left his position as a managing director of Shearson Lehman Brothers to join Peterson and Schwarzman at Blackstone in 1987, but left in 1992 to join the Clinton Administration as Deputy Treasury Secretary.
Blackstone was originally formed as a mergers and acquisitions advisory boutique. Blackstone advised on the 1987 merger of investment banks E. F. Hutton & Co. and Shearson Lehman Brothers, collecting a $3.5 million fee.
From the outset in 1985, Schwarzman and Peterson planned to enter the private equity business, but had difficulty in raising their first fund because neither had ever led a leveraged buyout. Blackstone finalized fundraising for its first private equity fund in the aftermath of the October 1987 stock market crash. After two years of providing strictly advisory services, Blackstone decided to pursue a merchant banking model after its founders determined that many situations required an investment partner rather than just an advisor. The largest investors in the first fund included Prudential Insurance Company, Nikko Securities and the General Motors pension fund.
Blackstone also ventured into other businesses, most notably investment management. In 1987 Blackstone entered into a 50–50 partnership with the founders of BlackRock, Larry Fink and Ralph Schlosstein. The two founders, who had previously run the mortgage-backed securities divisions at First Boston and Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb, respectively, initially joined Blackstone to manage an investment fund and provide advice to financial institutions. They also planned to use a Blackstone fund to invest in financial institutions and help build an asset management business specializing in fixed income investments.
As the business grew, Japanese bank Nikko Securities acquired a 20% interest in Blackstone for a $100 million investment in 1988 (valuing the firm at $500 million). Nikko's investment allowed for a major expansion of the firm and its investment activities. The growth firm also recruited politician and investment banker David Stockman from Salomon Brothers in 1988. Stockman led many key deals in his time at the firm, but had a mixed record with his investments. He left Blackstone in 1999 to start his own private equity firm, Heartland Industrial Partners, based in Greenwich, Connecticut.
The firm advised CBS Corporation on its 1988 sale of CBS Records to Sony to form what would become Sony Music Entertainment. In June 1989, Blackstone acquired freight railroad operator, CNW Corporation. That same year, Blackstone partnered with Salomon Brothers to raise $600 million to acquire distressed thrifts in the midst of the savings and loan crisis.
As the 1990s began, Blackstone continued its growth and expansion into new businesses. In 1990, Blackstone launched its fund of hedge funds business, initially intended to manage investments for Blackstone senior management. Also in 1990, Blackstone extended its ambitions to Europe, forming a partnership with J. O. Hambro Magan in the UK and Indosuez in France. In 1991, Blackstone created its Europe unit to enhance the firm's presence internationally.
In 1991, Blackstone launched its real estate investment business with the acquisition of a series of hotel businesses under the leadership of Henry Silverman. In 1990, Blackstone and Silverman acquired a 65% interest in Prime Motor Inn's Ramada and Howard Johnson franchises for $140 million, creating Hospitality Franchise Systems as a holding company. In October 1991, Blackstone and Silverman added Days Inns of America for $250 million. Then, in 1993, Hospitality Franchise Systems acquired Super 8 Motels for $125 million. Silverman would ultimately leave Blackstone to serve as CEO of HFS, which would later become Cendant Corporation.
Blackstone made a number of notable investments in the early and mid-1990s, including Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company (1991), Six Flags (1991), US Radio (1994), Centerplate (1995), MEGA Brands (1996). Also, in 1996, Blackstone partnered with the Loewen Group, the second largest funeral home and cemetery operator in North America, to acquire funeral home and cemetery businesses. The partnership's first acquisition was a $295 million buyout of Prime Succession from GTCR.
Through the mid and late 1990s, Blackstone continued to grow. In 1997, Blackstone completed fundraising for its third private equity fund, with approximately $4 billion of investor commitments and a $1.1 billion real estate investment fund. In the following year, in 1998, Blackstone sold a 7% interest in its management company to AIG, replacing Nikko Securities as its largest investor and valuing Blackstone at $2.1 billion. Then, in 1999, Blackstone launched its mezzanine capital business. Blackstone brought in five professionals, led by Howard Gellis from Nomura Holding America's Leveraged Capital Group to manage the business.
Blackstone's investments in the late 1990s included AMF Group (1996), Haynes International (1997), American Axle (1997), Premcor (1997), CommNet Cellular (1998), Graham Packaging (1998), Centennial Communications (1999), Bresnan Communications (1999), PAETEC Holding Corp. (1999). Haynes and Republic Technologies International, a specialty steel maker in which Blackstone invested in 1996, both had problems and ultimately filed bankruptcy.
Also, in 1997, Blackstone made its first investment in Allied Waste. Two years later, in 1999, Blackstone, together with Apollo Management provided capital for Allied Waste's acquisition of Browning-Ferris Industries in 1999 to create the second largest waste management company in the US. Blackstone's investment in Allied was one of its largest to that point in the firm's history.
Its investments in telecommunications businesses—four cable TV systems in rural areas (TW Fanch 1 and 2, Bresnan Communications and Intermedia Partners IV) and a cell phone operator in the Rocky Mountain states (CommNet Cellular) were among the most successful of the era, generating $1.5 billion of profits for Blackstone's funds.
Blackstone Real Estate Advisers, its real estate affiliate, bought the Watergate Complex in Washington D.C. in July 1998 for $39 million and sold it to Monument Reality in August 2004.
Blackstone acquired the mortgage for 7 World Trade Center in October 2000 from the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association.
In July 2002, Blackstone completed fundraising for a $6.45 billion private equity fund, Blackstone Capital Partners IV, the largest private equity fund ever raised to that point. More than $4 billion of the capital was raised by the end of 2001 and Blackstone was able to secure the remaining commitments despite adverse market conditions.
With a significant amount of capital in its new fund, Blackstone was one of a handful of private equity investors capable of completing large transactions in the adverse conditions of the early 2000s recession. At the end of 2002, Blackstone, together with Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital, acquired Houghton Mifflin Company for $1.28 billion. The transaction represented one of the first large club deals, completed since the collapse of the Dot-com bubble.
In 2002, Hamilton E. James joined global alternative asset manager Blackstone, where he currently serves as president and chief operating officer. He also serves on the firm's executive and management committees, and its board of directors. In late 2002, Blackstone remained active acquiring TRW Automotive in a $4.7 billion buyout, the largest private equity deal announced that year (the deal was completed in early 2003). TRW's parent was acquired by Northrop Grumman, while Blackstone purchased its automotive parts business, a major supplier of automotive systems. Blackstone also purchased a majority interest in Columbia House, a music buying club, in mid-2002.
Blackstone made a significant investment in Financial Guaranty Insurance Company (FGIC), a monoline bond insurer alongside PMI Group, The Cypress Group and CIVC Partners. FGIC incurred heavy losses, along with other bond insurers in the 2008 credit crisis.
Two years later, in 2005, Blackstone was one of seven private equity firms involved in the buyout of SunGard in a transaction valued at $11.3 billion. Blackstone's partners in the acquisition were Silver Lake Partners, Bain Capital, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Providence Equity Partners, and TPG Capital. This represented the largest leveraged buyout completed since the takeover of RJR Nabisco at the end of the 1980s leveraged buyout boom. Also, at the time of its announcement, SunGard would be the largest buyout of a technology company in history, a distinction it would cede to the buyout of Freescale Semiconductor. The SunGard transaction is also notable in the number of firms involved in the transaction, the largest club deal completed to that point. The involvement of seven firms in the consortium was criticized by investors in private equity who considered cross-holdings among firms to be generally unattractive.
In 2006, Blackstone launched its new long / short equity hedge fund business, Kailix Advisors. According to Blackstone, as of September 30, 2008, Kailix Advisors had $1.9 billion of assets under management. In December 2008, Blackstone announced that Kailix would be spun off to its management team to form a new fund as an independent entity backed by Blackstone.
While Blackstone was active on the corporate investment side, it was also busy pursuing real estate investments. Blackstone acquired Prime Hospitality and Extended Stay America in 2004. Blackstone followed these investments with the acquisition of La Quinta Inns & Suites in 2005. Blackstone's largest transaction, the buyout of Hilton Hotels Corporation occurred in 2007. Extended Stay Hotels was sold to The Lightstone Group in July 2007 and Prime Hospitality's Wellesley Inns were folded into La Quinta. La Quinta Inns & Suites went public in 2014 and is now controlled by La Quinta Holdings as the parent organization.
During the buyout boom of 2006 and 2007, Blackstone completed some of the largest leveraged buyouts. Blackstone's most notable transactions during this period included the following:
In 2004, Blackstone had explored the possibility of creating a business development company (BDC), Blackridge Investments, similar to vehicles pursued by Apollo Management. However, Blackstone failed to raise capital through an initial public offering that summer, and the project was shelved. It also planned to raise a fund on the Amsterdam stock exchange in 2006, but its rival, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., launched a $5 billion fund there that soaked up all demand for such funds, and Blackstone abandoned its project.
By the summer of 2006, Blackstone had a more ambitious goal and secretly began laying the groundwork for an IPO of the firm itself, and managed to keep the project quiet for eight or nine months. On March 22, 2007, Blackstone filed with the SEC to raise $4 billion in an initial public offering. On June 3, 2007, Blackstone announced the acquisition of Alliant Insurance Services, Inc., one of the nation's largest insurance brokerage firms. On June 21, Blackstone sold a 12.3% stake in its ownership for $4.13 billion in the largest U.S. IPO since 2002. Traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol BX, Blackstone priced at $31 per share on June 22, 2007. In July 2007, less than two weeks after the Blackstone IPO, its rival private equity firm, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, filed with the SEC. In October 2009, KKR listed its shares on the Euronext exchange and anticipates a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
Since the closure of the credit markets in 2007 and 2008, Blackstone has managed to close only a small number of sizable transactions. In January 2008, Blackstone made a small co-investment alongside TPG Capital and Apollo Management in their buyout of Harrah's Entertainment, although that transaction had been announced during the buyout boom period. Other notable investments that Blackstone completed in 2008 and 2009 included AlliedBarton, Performance Food Group, Apria Healthcare and CMS Computers.
Among the firm's two largest investments since the buyout boom have been The Weather Channel and the announced acquisition of Busch Entertainment. In July 2008, Blackstone, together with NBC Universal and Bain Capital agreed to purchase The Weather Channel from Landmark Communications. In October 2009, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced the sale of its Busch Entertainment Corporation theme parks division to Blackstone for $2.7 billion. The Financial Times reported that Merlin Entertainments owned by Blackstone Group will file an IPO in the 2nd quarter of 2010. Merlin will be listed on the London Stock Exchange. If true this would be the second of 8 reported IPOs Blackstone plans, the first being Team Health Holdings, Inc. Blackstone reported at the end of 2009 revenues of $1.8bln, compared to -$349mil revenues in 2008. On August 13, 2010 Blackstone announced it would buy Dynegy, an energy firm, for nearly $5 billion.
In 2010, Blackstone Alternative Asset Management, received Institutional Investor magazine's 8th Annual Hedge Fund Industry award for Large Fund of Hedge Funds of the Year.
In 2013, Bloomberg uncovered how the Blackstone Group was self-dealing after its affiliate GSO Capital Partners purchased debt and credit default swaps in Codere SA, a Spanish betting, online gambling and gaming company.
In the first half of 2013, Blackstone GSO and another firm later purchased a €100 million bank loan (via secondary markets) that Codere already had on the books, and then convinced Codere to delay repayment on the debt related to the aforementioned credit default swaps. That delay triggered the CDS, resulting in upwards of $18.7 million in profit for GSO.
The GSO director defended the move with "Codere (working with us...) had to trigger the credit default swaps, as it was the only way to compel certain bondholders to negotiate." and blamed credit default swap investors for their loss:
Unlike Blackstone, who invested directly into Codere, these financial investors [of hedge funds using credit default swaps] were not aligned with the interests of Codere, but instead through their use of credit default swaps, were betting on when the Company would default[...]having no interest in the outcome of the game.