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Blackstone zeros in on Asia

By James Mitchell
2 minute read

The US private equity giant shows no signs of stopping its expansion into Asia after making a handful of significant investments in the Australian financial services sector.

In his latest letter, Blackstone chairman, CEO and co-founder Stephen Schwarzman explained how the group will be expanding its channels, geographies and capabilities after increasing AUM by 9 per cent to $472 billion in a challenging 2018. 

Mr Schwarzman highlighted the Asian market as a specific interest for the group. 

“Across Blackstone, we’re doing considerably more in Asia, where we believe a significant portion of global growth will be generated in the coming years,” he said. 

“We now have three dedicated funds and nearly 300 employees in the region across eight offices, including nearly $10 billion of opportunistic capital in BREP Asia and BCP Asia, plus our new open-ended Real Estate Core-Plus vehicle in Asia.”

The private equity player has been very active in the Australian market in recent years, acquiring a majority stake in non-bank lender and fund manager La Trobe Financial in 2017. Fellow non-bank heavyweights like Pepper and Bluestone have also attracted significant investments from the likes of KKR and Cerebus Capital. 

Earlier in the year, reports surfaced that Blackstone was eyeing a 25 per cent stake in Aussie fitness company F45,  which Hollywood actor and investor Mark Wahlberg recently became a minority shareholder of. 

Blackstone’s interest in Australia and the broader APAC region comes after fellow US giant BlackRock estimated that Asia will drive 50 per cent of AUM growth in the asset management industry over the next five years. 

Blackrock has its sights set on China, where it sees huge growth potential and is focused on building an onshore presence. 

In Australia, the market recently speculated that the BlackRock had been running a ruler over AMP Capital as the bank was already working to finalise the sale of its life business to Resolution Life.

Earlier this year, the US-based asset manager acquired a 12.5 per cent stake in Perpetual.

BlackRock has also showed a strong appetite for Aussie real estate. In 2013, it bought the former Macquarie Global Property Advisers business.