Credit & Capital

Blackstone to Convert from a Partnership to a Corporation

The private equity giant's structural change will allow more investors to buy its stock.
Vincent RyanApril 19, 2019

Private-equity firm Blackstone announced it is changing its corporate structure to a corporation from a publicly traded partnership, effective July 1.

In an interview on CNBC’s Squawkbox on Thursday, CEO Steve Schwarzman said the change would allow Blackstone to “double the number of people” who are able to buy its stock. Being a publicly-traded partnership was “very irksome,” Schwarzman added.

Private equity firms KKR and Ares Management announced last year that they were converting into corporations.

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Blackstone shares jumped 7.5% on Thursday following the news. The company’s stock has traded at a discount to asset managers like BlackRock for years.

After the conversion, Blackstone will pay corporate taxes on its revenue but ownership in its stock will be opened up to include passive investors. Passive investors are prohibited from buying stock in publicly listed partnerships. Meanwhile, the tax hit is mitigated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which lowered the U.S. corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%.

“If you look at the ability to have people buy your stock: Double the number and we’ll grow more,” Schwarzman said. “That’s just in the U.S. There are people who are non-U.S., in foreign countries; they can’t buy us either.”

“We believe this will unlock value, as the partnership structure made it too difficult for many of our long-only clients, and major indexes, to own,” Credit Suisse analysts wrote in a note.

On Thursday, Blackstone also reported earnings. It said earnings from management fees were up 11% year-over-year. The company had $43 billion in capital inflows in the quarter and $126 billion over the last twelve months. Total assets under management crossed the $500 billion mark for the first time, increasing 14% year-over-year.

Blackstone was founded in 1985. In June 2007 the company went public, selling 133.3 million shares and raising $4.13 billion in an offering that valued the company at $33.6 billion. Its current market cap is about $44 billion.