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Blackstone's private equity business has been one of the largest investors in leveraged buyouts in the last decade, while its real estate business has actively acquired commercial real estate. As of 2019[update], the company's total assets under management were approximately US$545 billion.
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 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.:45–56 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, 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.:144-147 He left Blackstone in 1999 to start his own private equity firm, Heartland Industrial Partners, based in Greenwich, Connecticut.
The Blackstone Group logo in use prior to the firm's rebranding as simply Blackstone
In 1990, Blackstone launched its hedge funds business, initially intended to manage investments for Blackstone senior management. That same year, Blackstone formed a partnership with J. O. Hambro Magan in the UK and Indosuez in France. Additionally, 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 1991, Blackstone created its Europe unit and launched its real estate investment business with the acquisition of a series of hotel businesses under the leadership of Henry Silverman. In October 1991, Blackstone and Silverman added Days Inns of America for $250 million. 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.
In 1995, Blackstone sold its stake in BlackRock to PNC Financial Services for $250 million. Between 1995 and 2014, PNC reported $12 billion in pretax revenues and capital gains from BlackRock, Schwarzman later described the selling of BlackRock as his worst business decision ever.
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. Also in 1997, Blackstone made its first investment in Allied Waste. In 1998, Blackstone sold a 7% interest in its management company to AIG, valuing Blackstone at $2.1 billion. In 1999, Blackstone partnered, together with Apollo Management to provide capital for Allied Waste's acquisition of Browning-Ferris Industries. Blackstone's investment in Allied was one of its largest at that point in the firm's history.
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 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.:148-155
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.
In October 2000, Blackstone acquired the mortgage for 7 World Trade Center from the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association.
Schwarzman's Blackstone Group completed the first major IPO of a private equity firm in June 2007.
In July 2002, Blackstone completed fundraising for a $6.45 billion private equity fund, Blackstone Capital Partners IV, the largest private equity fund at that time.
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.:176,197,206–207 Blackstone also purchased a majority interest in Columbia House, a music-buying club, in mid-2002.
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.:225 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 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 $26 Billion buyout of Hilton Hotels Corporation occurred in 2007 under the tenure of Hilton CFO Stephen Bollenbach. 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:
Blackstone completed the $37.7 billion acquisition of one of the largest owners of commercial office properties in the US. At the time of its announcement, the EQ Office buyout became the largest in history, surpassing the buyout of Hospital Corporation of America. It would later be surpassed by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts's buyout of TXU. Vornado Realty Trust bid against Blackstone, pushing up the final price.
A consortium led by Blackstone and including the Carlyle Group, Permira and the TPG Capital completed the $17.6 billion takeover of the semiconductor company. At the time of its announcement, Freescale would be the largest leveraged buyout of a technology company ever, surpassing the 2005 buyout of SunGard. The buyers were forced to pay an extra $800 million because KKR made a last minute bid as the original deal was about to be signed. Shortly after the deal closed in late 2006, cell phone sales at Motorola Corp., Freescale's former corporate parent and a major customer, began dropping sharply. In addition, in the recession of 2008-2009, Freescale's chip sales to automakers fell off, and the company came under great financial strain.
Blackstone, together with Bain Capital, acquired Michaels, the largest arts and crafts retailer in North America in a $6.0 billion leveraged buyout in October 2006. Bain and Blackstone narrowly beat out Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and TPG Capital in an auction for the company.
Travelport, the parent of the travel web site Orbitz.com, was acquired from Cendant by Blackstone and Technology Crossover Ventures in a deal valued at $4.3 billion. The sale of Travelport followed the spin-offs of Cendant's real estate and hospitality businesses, Realogy Corporation and Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, respectively, in July 2006. (Later in the year, TPG and Silver Lake would acquire Travelport's chief competitor Sabre Holdings.) Soon after the Travelport buyout, Travelport spun off part of its subsidiary Orbitz Worldwide in an IPO and bought a Travelport competitor, Worldspan.
Blackstone acquired the premium hotel operator for approximately $26 billion, representing a 25% premium to Hilton's all-time high stock price. The Hilton deal, announced on July 3, 2007 is often referred to as the deal that marked the "high water mark" and the beginning of the end of the multi-year boom in leveraged buyouts. The company restructured its debt in 2010.
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.:221–223
In 2007, Blackstone acquired Alliant Insurance Services, an insurance brokerage firm. The company was sold to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in 2012.
On June 21, 2007, Blackstone became a public company via an initial public offering, selling a 12.3% stake in the company for $4.13 billion, in the largest U.S. IPO since 2002.
2008 to 2010
During the financial crisis of 2007-2008, Blackstone managed to close only a few 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.
In July 2008, Blackstone, together with NBC Universal and Bain Capital acquired The Weather Channel from Landmark Communications for $3.5 billion. In 2015, the digital assets were sold to IBM for $2 billion. In 2018, the remainder of the company was sold to Byron Allen for $300 million.
In November 2013, Merlin Entertainments, owned in part by Blackstone Group, became a public company via an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange.
In August 2010, Blackstone announced it would buy Dynegy, an energy firm, for nearly $5 billion; however, the acquisition was terminated in November 2010.
Investments 2011 to 2015
In February 2011, the company acquired Centro Properties Group US from Centro Retail Trust (now Vicinity Centres) for $9.4 billion. The company became Brixmor Property Group and Blackstone sold its remaining interest in the company in August 2016.
In November 2011, a fund managed by the company acquired medical biller Emdeon for $3 billion.
In late 2011, Blackstone Group LP acquired Jack Wolfskin, a German camping equipment company. In 2017, the company was handed over to its lenders.
In August 2012, Blackstone was part of a consortium that financed Knight Capital after a software glitch threatened Knight's ability to continue operations.
In October 2012, the company acquired G6 Hospitality, operator of Motel 6 & Studio 6 motels from AccorHotels, for $1.9 billion.
In November 2012, the company acquired a controlling interest in Vivint, Vivint Solar, and 2GIG Technologies. In February 2013, 2GIG was flipped to Nortek Security & Control, LLC for $135M.
In April 2013, the company discussed buying Dell, but it did not pursue the acquisition.
In February 2014, Blackstone purchased a 20% stake in the Italian luxury brand Versace for EUR150 million.
In April 2014, Blackstone's charitable arm, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, donated $4 million to create the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network in Colorado. The program encourages increased collaboration among local business leaders with the goal of retaining high-growth companies in the state.
In June 2019, Blackstone announced it had teamed with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and KIRKBI to buy Merlin Entertainment, the owners of Legoland in a deal worth £5.9 billion (about $7.5 billion). This would be the 2nd time Blackstone would own the company as they previously purchased it in 2005.
On July 15, 2019, Blackstone announced its plans to acquire Vungle, a leading mobile performance marketing platform.
In September 2019, Blackstone announced it agreed to purchase 65% controlling interest in Great Wolf Resorts from Centerbridge Partners. They plan to form a joint venture worth $2.9 billion or more to own the company.
On November 8, 2019, Blackstone Group acquired a majority stake in MagicLab, the owner of dating app Bumble.
Blackstone Group on November 15, 2019, invested $167 million in the holding company of Future Lifestyle Fashions Ltd., Ryka Commercial Ventures Pvt. Ltd.
On November 25, 2019, Reuters reported that Blackstone planned to invest $400 million in a joint venture with Swiss drug company Ferring. The joint venture will work on gene therapy for bladder cancer. The investment represents Blackstone Group's largest investment in drug development to date.
In March 2020, Blackstone announced that it is buying a majority stake in HealthEdge, a health-care software company. The deal worth $700 million was completed on April 13, 2020.
In July 2020, Blackstone invested US$200m in the Swedish oat milk brand, Oatly, for a 7% stake in the company, triggering outrage among some segments of its customer base.
In August 2020, Blackstone announced that it will buy a majority stake in Ancestry.com for $4.7 billion (including debt).
In August 2020, Blackstone acquired Takeda Consumer Healthcare for $2.3 billion.
The purchase and subsequent 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 nursing 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 2007-2010 subprime mortgage crisis in the United States, Blackstone Group LP bought more than $5.5 billion worth of single-family homes to rent, and then be sold when the prices rise.
In 2014, Blackstone sold Northern California office buildings[which?] for $3.5 billion.
In 2018, critique was raised regarding a purchase agreement on several hundred apartments in Frederiksberg, Denmark, between Blackstone's Danish partner North 360 and Frederiksberg Boligfond, a non-profit housing organization established by Frederiksberg Municipality in 1930. After resistance of residents and questions regarding the legality of the purchase agreement, Blackstone withdrew from it in October 2019.
Marketable alternative asset management
In 1990, Blackstone created a fund of hedge funds business to manage internal assets for Blackstone and its senior managers. 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.
Gulfstream G650ER jet owned by The Blackstone Group.
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 earnings targets. The combined entity created one of the largest credit platforms in the alternative asset management business, with over $21 billion 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 they acquired DLJ. Blackstone had been an original investor in GSO's funds. Following the acquisition, Blackstone merged GSO's operations with its existing debt investment operations.
United Nations condemnation of the Invitation Homes project and lobbying efforts
In 2019, a United Nations report found that Blackstone's massive purchasing of single-family homes after the financial crisis of 2007-2008 had "devastating consequences." In addition to reshaping the housing market to benefit Wall Street over working people,[clarification needed] Blackstone abused tenants with exorbitant fees, rent hikes, and aggressive eviction practices. Blackstone's real estate practice had a disproportionate impact on communities of color, in part because the company targeted foreclosures resulting from subprime loans. Blackstone also contributed to widespread displacement from gentrification; the firm bought property in low-income neighborhoods, refurbished units, and exorbitantly increased rent.
The report also condemned Blackstone for "using its significant resources and political leverage to undermine domestic laws and policies that would in fact improve access to adequate Housing." Blackstone spent at least $6.2 million to defeat California's Proposition 10, which would have allowed cities to enact rent control. Blackstone is a member of the Real Estate Roundtable, a special interest group which spends millions on lobbying and political donations every year.
United Nations housing rapporteurLeilani Farha and Surya Deva, chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, criticised Blackstone's business practices, including frequent rent increases and "aggressive" evictions, for contributing to the global housing crisis. Blackstone disputed these claims.
^Silverman, Gary; Nicolaou, Anna Nicolaou (2016-10-21). "Steve Bollenbach, hospitality executive, 1942-2016". Financial Times. Retrieved 2018. He served as chief financial officer of Marriott and Walt Disney and chief executive of Hilton Hotels, a post he held from 1996 to 2007, when he sold the company to Blackstone for $26bn. ... He helped craft Marriott's 1992 split into a hotel management operation and a real estate holding company, as well as Disney's $19bn deal to buy Capital Cities/ABC in 1995.