Though PE is still its biggest division in terms of AUM, Stephen Schwarzman has grown his firm into a diversified asset manager with its hands in real estate, hedge funds, credit, life sciences, infrastructure and more. All with the goal of eventually managing $1 trillion in assets by 2026, which would nearly double the $512 billion in AUM it announced during its 1Q earnings report.
The firm's capital-raising power was on full display in June. And nothing arguably drew more attention than a report from Bloomberg that it was set to close its much-ballyhooed debut infrastructure fund on more than $12 billion. Despite facing some initial challenges raising capital, the vehicle has become one of the largest infrastructure funds ever raised by a US private equity firm, per PitchBook data. And it's expected to deploy money within the US infrastructure ecosystem, which is sorely lacking thanks, in part, to years of federal policy gridlock.
But the vehicle hasn't been free of controversy, in part because the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia has pledged up to $20 billion toward its long-term $40 billion target. Blackstone announced its partnership with the PIF in May 2017. That was before Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, who essentially runs the PIF, allegedly helped facilitate the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi embassy in Istanbul.
After the killing, Blackstone COO Jonathan Gray ultimately indicated during a conference call that it had no plans to reject or return the money.
"We've been concerned about what we've been reading the last couple of weeks," Gray said at the time. "But we take a long-term approach both to our relationships and to building businesses. We think of ourselves as long-term, responsible stewards of capital. ... Yes, in the short term we may get some questions. But the key thing to remember is our investors know that Blackstone is the sole GP of the capital."
The fund is now expected to close temporarily until more capital is deployed. The PIF had already committed about $6.5 billion to the vehicle as of March 31.
In addition to the infrastructure push, Blackstone has raised about $4.1 billion for its third tactical opportunities fund, according to an SEC filing. The vehicle's strategy is open-ended, investing across a range of asset classes, geographies and industries that are outside traditional fund mandates. Meanwhile, Blackstone's credit platform, GSO Capital Partners, has raised $4.5 billion for its second fund focused on energy credit deals, just weeks after it reportedly capped its eighth global buyout fund on $25 billion after receiving more demand from LPs than it wants to manage.
At this rate, maybe Blackstone won't have to wait until 2026 to reach $1 trillion in AUM.
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