10-K 1 d280098d10k.htm 10-K 10-K
Table of Contents

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934 FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2016

OR

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934 FOR THE TRANSITION PERIOD FROM              TO             

Commission File Number: 001-33551

 

 

LOGO

The Blackstone Group L.P.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Delaware   20-8875684

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

345 Park Avenue

New York, New York 10154

(Address of principal executive offices)(Zip Code)

(212) 583-5000

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

 

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common units representing limited partner interests   New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  ☒    No  ☐

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes  ☐    No  ☒

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  ☒    No  ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).    Yes  ☒    No  ☐

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein and will not be contained, to the best of the Registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer  ☒

   Accelerated filer  ☐

Non-accelerated filer  ☐

   Smaller reporting company  ☐

(do not check if a smaller reporting company)

  

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    Yes  ☐    No  ☒

The aggregate market value of the common units of the Registrant held by non-affiliates as of June 30, 2016 was approximately $15.3 billion, which includes non-voting common units with a value of approximately $1.4 billion.

The number of the Registrant’s voting common units representing limited partner interests outstanding as of February 17, 2017 was 587,607,442. The number of the Registrant’s non-voting common units representing limited partner interests outstanding as of February 17, 2017 was 54,470,009.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

None

 

 

 


Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

          Page  
PART I.      
ITEM 1.   

BUSINESS

     5  
ITEM 1A.   

RISK FACTORS

     19  
ITEM 1B.   

UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

     71  
ITEM 2.   

PROPERTIES

     72  
ITEM 3.   

LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

     72  
ITEM 4.   

MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

     72  
PART II.      
ITEM 5.   

MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

     73  
ITEM 6.   

SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

     76  
ITEM 7.   

MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

     78  
ITEM 7A.   

QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

     146  
ITEM 8.   

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA

     150  
ITEM 8A.   

UNAUDITED SUPPLEMENTAL PRESENTATION OF STATEMENTS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION

     222  
ITEM 9.   

CHANGES IN AND DISAGREEMENTS WITH ACCOUNTANTS ON ACCOUNTING AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE

     224  
ITEM 9A.   

CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES

     224  
ITEM 9B.   

OTHER INFORMATION

     225  
PART III.      
ITEM 10.   

DIRECTORS, EXECUTIVE OFFICERS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

     226  
ITEM 11.   

EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

     233  
ITEM 12.   

SECURITY OWNERSHIP OF CERTAIN BENEFICIAL OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT AND RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS

     254  
ITEM 13.   

CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS AND RELATED TRANSACTIONS, AND DIRECTOR INDEPENDENCE

     257  
ITEM 14.   

PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTING FEES AND SERVICES

     265  
PART IV.      
ITEM 15.   

EXHIBITS, FINANCIAL STATEMENT SCHEDULES

     267  
ITEM 16.   

FORM 10-K SUMMARY

     278  

SIGNATURES

     279  

 

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Forward-Looking Statements

This report may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 which reflect our current views with respect to, among other things, our operations and financial performance. You can identify these forward-looking statements by the use of words such as “outlook,” “indicator,” “believes,” “expects,” “potential,” “continues,” “may,” “will,” “should,” “seeks,” “approximately,” “predicts,” “intends,” “plans,” “estimates,” “anticipates” or the negative version of these words or other comparable words. Such forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties. Accordingly, there are or will be important factors that could cause actual outcomes or results to differ materially from those indicated in these statements. We believe these factors include but are not limited to those described under the section entitled “Risk Factors” in this report, as such factors may be updated from time to time in our periodic filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), which are accessible on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. These factors should not be construed as exhaustive and should be read in conjunction with the other cautionary statements that are included in this report and in our other periodic filings. The forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this report, and we undertake no obligation to publicly update or review any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.

Website and Social Media Disclosure

We use our website (www.blackstone.com), Facebook page (www.facebook.com/blackstone), Twitter (www.twitter.com/blackstone), LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/company/the-blackstone-group), Instagram (www.instagram.com/blackstone) and YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/blackstonegroup) accounts as channels of distribution of company information. The information we post through these channels may be deemed material. Accordingly, investors should monitor these channels, in addition to following our press releases, SEC filings and public conference calls and webcasts. In addition, you may automatically receive e-mail alerts and other information about Blackstone when you enroll your e-mail address by visiting the “Contact Us/Email Alerts” section of our website at http://ir.blackstone.com. The contents of our website, any alerts and social media channels are not, however, a part of this report.

 

 

In this report, references to “Blackstone,” the “Partnership,” “we,” “us” or “our” refer to The Blackstone Group L.P. and its consolidated subsidiaries. Unless the context otherwise requires, references in this report to the ownership of Mr. Stephen A. Schwarzman, our founder, and other Blackstone personnel include the ownership of personal planning vehicles and family members of these individuals.

“Blackstone Funds,” “our funds” and “our investment funds” refer to the private equity funds, real estate funds, funds of hedge funds, credit-focused funds, collateralized loan obligation (“CLO”), real estate investment trusts and registered investment companies that are managed by Blackstone. “Our carry funds” refers to the private equity funds, real estate funds and certain of the hedge fund solutions and credit-focused funds (with multi-year drawdown, commitment-based structures that only pay carry on the realization of an investment) that are managed by Blackstone. We refer to our general corporate private equity funds as Blackstone Capital Partners (“BCP”) funds, our energy-focused private equity funds as Blackstone Energy Partners (“BEP”) funds, our core private equity fund as Blackstone Core Equity Partners (“BCEP”), our opportunistic investment platform that invests globally across asset classes, industries and geographies as Blackstone Tactical Opportunities (“Tactical Opportunities”), our secondary private equity fund of funds business as Strategic Partners Fund Solutions (“Strategic Partners”), a multi-asset investment program for eligible high net worth investors offering exposure to certain of our key illiquid investment strategies through a single commitment as Blackstone Total Alternatives Solution (“BTAS”) and our capital markets services business as Blackstone Capital Markets (“BXCM”). We refer to our real estate opportunistic funds as Blackstone Real Estate Partners (“BREP”) funds and our real estate debt investment funds as Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies (“BREDS”) funds. We refer to our core+ real estate funds, which target substantially stabilized assets in prime markets, as Blackstone Property Partners (“BPP”) funds. We refer to our real

 

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estate investment trusts as “REITs” and to Blackstone Mortgage Trust, Inc., our NYSE-listed REIT as “BXMT”. “Our hedge funds” refers to our funds of hedge funds, certain of our real estate debt investment funds, including a registered investment company, and certain other credit-focused funds which are managed by Blackstone.

“Assets Under Management” refers to the assets we manage. Our Assets Under Management equals the sum of:

 

  (a) the fair value of the investments held by our carry funds and our side-by-side and co-investment entities managed by us, plus the capital that we are entitled to call from investors in those funds and entities pursuant to the terms of their respective capital commitments, including capital commitments to funds that have yet to commence their investment periods, plus for certain credit-oriented funds the amounts available to be borrowed under asset based credit facilities,

 

  (b) the net asset value of our funds of hedge funds, hedge funds, real estate debt carry funds (plus the capital that we are entitled to call from investors in those funds), open ended core+ real estate fund, our Hedge Fund Solutions registered investment companies, and our non-exchange traded REIT,

 

  (c) the invested capital, fair value or net asset value of assets we manage pursuant to separately managed accounts,

 

  (d) the amount of debt and equity outstanding for our CLOs during the reinvestment period,

 

  (e) the aggregate par amount of collateral assets, including principal cash, for our CLOs after the reinvestment period,

 

  (f) the gross or net amount of assets (including leverage where applicable) for our credit-focused registered investment companies, and

 

  (g) the fair value of common stock, preferred stock, convertible debt, or similar instruments issued by BXMT.

Our carry funds are commitment-based drawdown structured funds that do not permit investors to redeem their interests at their election. Our funds of hedge funds, hedge funds and funds structured like hedge funds in our Hedge Fund Solutions, Credit and Real Estate segments generally have structures that afford an investor the right to withdraw or redeem their interests on a periodic basis (for example, annually or quarterly), typically with 30 to 95 days’ notice, depending on the fund and the liquidity profile of the underlying assets. Investment advisory agreements related to certain separately managed accounts in our Hedge Fund Solutions and Credit segments may generally be terminated by an investor on 30 to 90 days’ notice.

“Fee-Earning Assets Under Management” refers to the assets we manage on which we derive management and/or performance fees. Our Fee-Earning Assets Under Management equals the sum of:

 

  (a) for our Private Equity segment funds and Real Estate segment carry funds including certain real estate debt investment funds and certain of our Hedge Fund Solutions funds, the amount of capital commitments, remaining invested capital, fair value or par value of assets held, depending on the fee terms of the fund,

 

  (b) for our credit-focused carry funds, the amount of remaining invested capital (which may include leverage) or net asset value, depending on the fee terms of the fund,

 

  (c) the remaining invested capital or fair value of assets held in co-investment vehicles managed by us on which we receive fees,

 

  (d) the net asset value of our funds of hedge funds, hedge funds, open ended core+ real estate fund, co-investments managed by us on which we receive fees, certain registered investment companies, and our non-exchanged traded REIT,

 

  (e) the invested capital, fair value of assets or the net asset value we manage pursuant to separately managed accounts,

 

  (f) the net proceeds received from equity offerings and accumulated core earnings of BXMT, subject to certain adjustments,

 

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  (g) the aggregate par amount of collateral assets, including principal cash, of our CLOs, and

 

  (h) the gross amount of assets (including leverage) or the net assets (plus leverage where applicable) for certain of our credit-focused registered investment companies.

Each of our segments may include certain Fee-Earning Assets Under Management on which we earn performance fees but not management fees.

Our calculations of assets under management and fee-earning assets under management may differ from the calculations of other asset managers, and as a result this measure may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other asset managers. In addition, our calculation of assets under management includes commitments to, and the fair value of, invested capital in our funds from Blackstone and our personnel, regardless of whether such commitments or invested capital are subject to fees. Our definitions of assets under management or fee-earning assets under management are not based on any definition of assets under management or fee-earning assets under management that is set forth in the agreements governing the investment funds that we manage.

For our carry funds, total assets under management includes the fair value of the investments held, whereas fee-earning assets under management includes the amount of capital commitments, the remaining amount of invested capital at cost depending on whether the investment period has or has not expired or the fee terms of the fund. As such, fee-earning assets under management may be greater than total assets under management when the aggregate fair value of the remaining investments is less than the cost of those investments.

This report does not constitute an offer of any Blackstone Fund.

 

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PART I.

 

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

Overview

Blackstone is a leading global alternative asset manager, with Total Assets Under Management of $366.6 billion as of December 31, 2016. As stewards of public funds, we look to drive outstanding results for our investors and clients by deploying capital and ideas to help businesses succeed and grow. Our alternative asset management businesses include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, hedge fund solutions, non-investment grade credit, secondary private equity funds of funds and multi-asset class strategies. We also provide capital markets services.

All of Blackstone’s businesses use a solutions oriented approach to drive better performance. We believe our scaled, diversified businesses, coupled with our long track record of investment performance, proven investment approach and strong client relationships, position us to continue to perform well in a variety of market conditions, expand our assets under management and add complementary businesses.

Two of our primary limited partner constituencies are public and corporate pension funds. As a result, to the extent our funds perform well, it supports a better retirement for millions of pensioners.

In addition, because we are a global firm with a footprint on nearly every continent, our investments can make a difference around the world. We are committed to making our family of companies stronger in ways that can have positive impacts on local economies.

As of December 31, 2016, we had 123 senior managing directors and approximately 2,120 other employees at our headquarters in New York and in 29 other cities around the world. We believe hiring, training and retaining talented individuals coupled with our rigorous investment process has supported our excellent investment record over many years. This record in turn has allowed us to successfully and repeatedly raise additional assets from an increasingly wide variety of sophisticated investors.

2016 Highlights

Sustained Healthy Realization Activity Driving Distributions

 

   

Continued strong realization activity across business segments despite a volatile market backdrop, with total realizations of $39 billion in 2016, and averaging $42 billion per year over the last three years.

 

   

Blackstone has distributed over $8 billion in value, including the value of the spin-off of our financial advisory business, to common and Holdings unitholders over the past three years, one of the highest returns of capital to equity holders in our industry.

Platform Expansion Enabling Large Scale Capital Deployment

 

   

Global scale and business diversification allow Blackstone to identify attractive investment opportunities around the world, despite more challenging market conditions in certain areas. As a result, the past three years have marked the three largest for capital deployment in our history, with $23 billion deployed in 2016 and a cumulative $82 billion deployed over the past three years.

 

   

We are generating significant deal flow from new strategies. Three of our largest new initiatives in the past five years — Tactical Opportunities, core+ real estate and Strategic Partners — invested an aggregate $7 billion in 2016, or 30% of total capital deployed. In addition, our new core private equity initiative signed its first investment in January 2017.

 

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Another Year of Double-Digit Growth in Fee-Earning Assets Under Management

 

   

Each of our investing businesses saw positive growth in both Assets Under Management and Fee-Earning Assets Under Management in 2016, despite significant levels of realizations, given continued strong fundraising across businesses. Fee-Earning Assets Under Management rose 13% in 2016 to $277 billion and Assets Under Management rose 9% to $367 billion, both of which were firm records.

 

   

Gross organic capital inflows across our businesses reached $70 billion for 2016, our second best year on record. Our limited partners continue to give us large scale capital for our new initiatives, including Tactical Opportunities, which in five years has reached $17 billion in Assets Under Management, core+ real estate, which in three years has reached $14 billion in Assets Under Management and Strategic Partners, which now has over $20 billion in Assets Under Management, more than double the size of the platform when we acquired it three years ago.

 

   

Continued to diversify our sources of capital, including bringing our institutional quality solutions to the retail high net worth area and family office channels, with a meaningful amount of capital inflows coming from the retail channel.

 

   

Maintained focus on developing innovative investment structures and capital raising opportunities, sponsoring (together with Axis Capital) the creation of Harrington Re Ltd., a Bermuda-based multi-line reinsurance company, which will invest a significant portion of its capital across a multi-asset alternative strategy managed by Blackstone.

Industry-Leading Credit Rating and Strong Balance Sheet

 

   

Strong balance sheet with no net debt, $4.6 billion in total cash, cash equivalents and corporate treasury investments, and a $1.5 billion undrawn revolver.

 

   

S&P and Fitch have both affirmed Blackstone’s A+ / A+ credit ratings, making Blackstone the highest rated alternative asset manager and one of the highest rated global financial services firms.

 

   

Successfully executed our second euro bond sale in a highly oversubscribed offering of €600 million of 1.0% notes due 2026, which was priced within a few basis points of the benchmark rate’s all-time low.

Positively Impacting Communities

 

   

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation continued its work with local partners in targeted regions to create or grow non-profit programs that support networks and resources for entrepreneurs. In 2016, the Foundation expanded Blackstone LaunchPad to three universities in Texas. In January 2017, working with the city of Chicago and World Business Chicago, it launched the Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge, a three-year pilot program that will award up to $3.4 million in grants to create a cohort of innovative organizations that effectively recruit and support diverse entrepreneurs and scale start-ups in the Chicago area.

 

   

In April 2013, Blackstone committed to hire 50,000 American veterans across its portfolio over five years in support of the White House’s “Joining Forces” initiative, and has successfully hired 45,000 to date. For the past four years, Blackstone has hosted a Blackstone Veterans Hiring Summit designed to help hiring executives within corporations share best practices on attracting and recruiting veterans and to assist representatives from the U.S. military and government as they work in coordination with Blackstone portfolio companies

Business Segments

Our four business segments are: (a) Private Equity, (b) Real Estate, (c) Hedge Fund Solutions and (d) Credit.

Information about our business segments should be read together with “Part II. Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the historical financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Form 10-K.

 

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Private Equity

Our Private Equity segment, established in 1987, is a global business with approximately 250 employees managing $100.2 billion of Total Assets Under Management as of December 31, 2016. We are a world leader in private equity investing, having managed seven general private equity funds, as well as three sector-focused funds since we established the business. We are focused on identifying, managing and creating lasting value for our investors. Our Private Equity segment includes our corporate private equity business, which consists of our flagship corporate private equity funds, Blackstone Capital Partners (“BCP”) funds, our sector-focused corporate private equity funds, including our energy-focused funds, Blackstone Energy Partners (“BEP”) funds and our core private equity fund, which targets control-oriented investments in high-quality companies with durable businesses and seeks to offer a lower level of risk and a longer hold period than traditional private equity. In addition, our Private Equity segment includes our opportunistic investment platform that invests globally across asset classes, industries and geographies, Blackstone Tactical Opportunities (“Tactical Opportunities”), our secondary private equity fund of funds business, Strategic Partners Fund Solutions (“Strategic Partners”), a multi-asset investment program for eligible high net worth investors offering exposure to certain of Blackstone’s key illiquid investment strategies through a single commitment, Blackstone Total Alternatives Solutions (“BTAS”) and our capital markets services business, Blackstone Capital Markets (“BXCM”).

Our corporate private equity business pursues transactions throughout the world across a variety of transaction types, including large buyouts, mid-cap buyouts, buy and build platforms (which involve multiple acquisitions behind a single management team and platform) and growth equity/development projects (which involve significant minority investments in operating companies and greenfield development projects in energy and power). Our private equity business’s investment strategies and core themes continually evolve, in anticipation of, or in response to, changes in the global economy, local markets, regulation, capital flows and geopolitical trends. We seek to construct a differentiated portfolio of investments with a well-defined, interventionist, post-acquisition value creation strategy. Similarly, we seek investments that can generate strong unlevered returns regardless of entry or exit cycle timing. Finally, when we can identify sectors or geographies in which the demand for capital greatly exceeds the readily available supply, our private equity business seeks to make investments at or near book value where it can create goodwill or franchise value through post-acquisition actions.

Tactical Opportunities, our opportunistic investment platform, invests globally across asset classes, industries and geographies. Tactical Opportunities’ mandate allows for flexible investing where it seeks to capitalize on time-sensitive, complex or dislocated market situations in areas where it sees mispriced risks. The Tactical Opportunities team leverages intellectual capital from across all of our businesses to inform our investment diligence and execution. A flexible investment mandate allows Tactical Opportunities to structure a broad range of investments, including private and public securities and instruments, where the underlying exposure may be to equity, debt and/or real assets, and to construct a diversified portfolio of investments that provides differentiated exposures relative to traditional alternative asset managers.

Strategic Partners, our secondary private equity fund of funds business was established in 2000 and acquired by Blackstone in 2013. Strategic Partners is focused on investing in a range of opportunities, leveraging its proprietary database to execute transactions ranging from single fund interests to complex, structured portfolio solutions, in an efficient and timely manner.

For more information concerning the revenues and fees we derive from our Private Equity segment, see “—Incentive Arrangements / Fee Structure” in this Item 1.

Real Estate

Our Real Estate group was founded in 1991 and is one of the largest real estate investment managers in the world, with $102.0 billion of Total Assets Under Management as of December 31, 2016. We operate as one globally integrated business with 285 employees and investments in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

 

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Our Blackstone Real Estate Partners (“BREP”) funds are geographically diversified and target a broad range of “opportunistic” real estate and real estate related investments. The BREP funds include global funds as well as funds focused specifically on Europe or Asia investments. We seek to acquire high quality, well-located yet undermanaged assets at an attractive basis, address any property or business issues through active asset management and sell the assets once our business plan is accomplished. BREP has made significant investments in hotels, office buildings, shopping centers, residential and industrial assets, as well as a variety of real estate operating companies.

We launched Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies (“BREDS”), our real estate debt platform, in 2008. Our BREDS vehicles target debt investment opportunities collateralized by commercial real estate. BREDS invests in both public and private markets, primarily in the U.S. and Europe. BREDS’ scale and investment mandates enable it to provide a variety of lending options for our borrowers and investment options for our investors, including mezzanine loans, senior loans and liquid securities. The BREDS platform includes a number of high yield and high grade real estate debt funds, liquid real estate debt funds and Blackstone Mortgage Trust, Inc. (“BXMT”), a NYSE-listed REIT.

We launched our core+ real estate business (“BPP”) in 2013 and we have assembled a global portfolio of high quality core+ investments across the U.S., Europe and Asia. Our BPP vehicles target substantially stabilized assets in prime markets with a focus on office, multifamily, industrial and retail assets. The funds generate returns through both current income and value appreciation over the long term. We manage several core+ real estate funds and a non-exchange traded REIT.

For more information concerning the revenues and fees we derive from our Real Estate segment, see “— Incentive Arrangements / Fee Structure” in this Item 1.

Hedge Fund Solutions

Our Hedge Fund Solutions group is comprised primarily of Blackstone Alternative Asset Management (“BAAM”). BAAM is the world’s largest discretionary allocator to hedge funds, managing a broad range of commingled and customized hedge fund of fund solutions since its inception in 1990. The Hedge Fund Solution segment also includes investment platforms that seed new hedge fund businesses, purchase minority ownership interests in more established hedge funds, invest in special situation opportunities, create alternative solutions in regulated structures and trade directly. Working with our clients over the past 20 plus years, our Hedge Fund Solutions group has developed into a leading manager of institutional hedge fund of funds with approximately 160 employees managing $71.1 billion of Total Assets Under Management as of December 31, 2016. Hedge Fund Solutions’ overall investment philosophy is to protect and grow investors’ assets through both commingled and custom-tailored investment strategies designed to deliver compelling risk-adjusted returns and mitigate risk. Diversification, risk management, due diligence and a focus on downside protection are key tenets of our approach. For more information concerning the revenues and fees we derive from our Hedge Fund Solutions segment, see “— Incentive Arrangements / Fee Structure” in this Item 1.

Credit

Our credit business consists principally of GSO Capital Partners LP (“GSO”) which was founded in 2005 and subsequently acquired by Blackstone in 2008. GSO, with $93.3 billion of Total Assets Under Management as of December 31, 2016 and approximately 180 employees, is one of the largest leveraged finance-focused alternative asset managers in the world and is the largest manager of CLOs globally. The investment portfolios of the funds we manage or sub-advise predominantly consist of loans and securities of non-investment grade companies spread across the capital structure including senior debt, subordinated debt, preferred stock and common equity.

The GSO business is organized into three overarching strategies: performing credit, distressed and long only. Our performing credit strategies include mezzanine lending funds, business development companies (“BDCs”) that we sub-advise and other performing credit strategy funds. Our distressed strategies include hedge fund strategies, rescue lending funds and distressed energy strategies. GSO’s long only strategies consist of CLOs, closed end funds, commingled funds and separately managed accounts.

 

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Financial and Other Information by Segment

Financial and other information by segment for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014 is set forth in Note 21. “Segment Reporting” in the “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” in “Part II. Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this filing.

Pátria Investments

On October 1, 2010, we purchased a 40% equity interest in Pátria Investments Limited and Pátria Investimentos Ltda. (collectively, “Pátria”). Pátria is a leading Brazilian alternative asset manager that was founded in 1988. As of December 31, 2016, Pátria’s alternative asset management businesses had $9.4 billion in assets under management, including the management of private equity funds ($4.4 billion), real estate funds ($1.3 billion), infrastructure funds ($3.6 billion) and new initiatives ($225.4 million). Pátria has approximately 245 employees and is led by a group of three managing partners. Our investment in Pátria is a minority, non-controlling investment, which we record using the equity method of accounting. We have representatives on Pátria’s board of directors in proportion to our ownership, but we do not control the day-to-day management of the firm or the investment decisions of their funds, all of which continues to reside with the local Brazilian partners.

Investment Process and Risk Management

We maintain a rigorous investment process across all of our funds, accounts and other investment vehicles. Each fund, account or other vehicle has investment policies and procedures that generally contain requirements and limitations for investments, such as limitations relating to the amount that will be invested in any one investment and the types of industries or geographic regions in which the fund, account or other vehicle will invest, as well as limitations required by law. Our business’ investment committees review and evaluate investment opportunities in a framework that includes a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the key risks of each investment.

Private Equity Funds

Our Private Equity investment professionals are responsible for selecting, evaluating, structuring, diligencing, negotiating, executing, managing and exiting investments, as well as pursuing operational improvements and value creation. After an initial selection, evaluation and diligence process, the relevant team of investment professionals (i.e., the deal team) submits a proposed transaction for review by the review committee of our private equity funds. Review committee meetings are led by an executive committee of several senior managing directors of our Private Equity segment. Following assimilation of the review committee’s input and its decision to proceed, the proposed investment is vetted by the investment committee. The investment committee of our private equity funds is composed of Stephen A. Schwarzman, Hamilton E. James, Joseph Baratta, Global Head of Private Equity, and selected senior managing directors of our Private Equity segment, including individuals based on the location and sector of the proposed transaction. The investment committee is responsible for approving all investment decisions made on behalf of our private equity funds. Considerations that the investment committee takes into account when evaluating an investment include the quality of a business in which the fund proposes to invest and the quality of the management team of such business, expected levered and unlevered returns of the investment in a variety of investment scenarios, the ability of the company in which the investment is made to service debt in a range of economic and interest rate environments, environmental, social and governance, or ESG, issues and macroeconomic trends in the relevant geographic region.

The investment professionals of our private equity funds are responsible for monitoring an investment once it is made and for making recommendations with respect to exiting an investment. In addition to members of a deal team and our portfolio operations group, which is responsible for assisting in enhancing portfolio companies’ operations and value, all professionals in our private equity business meet several times each year to review the performance of the funds’ portfolio companies.

Our Tactical Opportunities business has a substantially similar process to the Private Equity process described above, with the exception of the composition of the review and investment committee. The Tactical Opportunities

 

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review committee is comprised of the senior managing directors and managing directors of the Tactical Opportunities business and a senior managing director of our Private Equity business, and the investment committee is comprised of Mr. Schwarzman, Mr. James, the business heads of Blackstone’s Private Equity, Real Estate and Credit businesses, and certain other senior managing directors.

Our Strategic Partners business seeks capital appreciation through the purchase of secondary interests in mature, high-quality private equity funds from investors seeking liquidity. After rigorous, highly analytical investment due diligence, the Strategic Partners investment professionals present a proposed transaction to the group’s investment committee. The Strategic Partners investment committee is made up of senior members of the Strategic Partners team, including all of the group’s Senior Managing Directors. The investment committee meets to review, and decide whether to approve or deny, transactions. The investment professionals on the Strategic Partners team are responsible for monitoring each investment once it is made. In addition to members of the investment team, and given the large number of underlying investments, the Strategic Partners Finance team will also track investment valuations pursuant to the group’s valuation policies and procedures.

Real Estate Funds

Our Real Estate investment professionals are responsible for selecting, evaluating, structuring, diligencing, negotiating, executing, managing, monitoring and exiting investments, as well as pursuing operational improvements and value creation. Our real estate operation has an investment committee similar to that described under “— Private Equity Funds.” After an initial selection, evaluation and diligence process, the relevant team of investment professionals (i.e., the deal team) will present a proposed transaction at a weekly meeting of the investment committee. The real estate investment committee, which includes Mr. Schwarzman, Mr. James, Jonathan D. Gray, Global Head of Real Estate, and the senior managing directors in the Real Estate segment, scrutinizes potential transactions, provides guidance and instructions at the appropriate stage of the transaction and approves the investments. Considerations that the investment committee takes into account when evaluating an investment include current and anticipated market fundamentals (including, for example, supply and demand fundamentals) and macroeconomic trends in the relevant geographic region, the quality of the asset in which the fund proposes to invest, the appropriateness of existing or planned leverage levels of the business or asset and our ability to successfully implement operational plans and improvements and exit the investment at an expected rate of return. Deal team members and our asset management group are responsible for monitoring and enhancing investments’ operations and value.

Hedge Fund Solutions

Before deciding to invest in a new hedge fund or with a new hedge fund manager, our Hedge Fund Solutions team conducts extensive due diligence, including an on-site “front office” review of the fund’s/manager’s performance, investment terms, investment strategy and investment personnel, a “back office” review of the fund’s/manager’s operations, processes, risk management and internal controls, industry reference checks and a legal review of the investment structures and legal documents. Once initial due diligence procedures are completed and the investment and other professionals are satisfied with the results of the review, the team will present the potential investment to the relevant Hedge Fund Solutions investment committee. The investment committees are comprised of relevant senior managing directors and senior investment personnel. Existing investments are reviewed and monitored on a regular and continuous basis, and J. Tomilson Hill, CEO of the Hedge Fund Solutions group and Vice Chairman of Blackstone, and other senior members of our Hedge Fund Solutions team meet regularly with Mr. Schwarzman and Mr. James to review the group’s business and affairs

Credit

Each of our credit-focused funds has an investment committee similar to that described under “— Private Equity Funds.” The investment committees for the credit-focused funds, which typically include Bennett J. Goodman and J. Albert Smith III and senior members of the respective investment teams associated with each

 

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credit-focused fund, review potential transactions, provide input regarding the scope of due diligence and approve recommended investments and dispositions, subject to delineated exceptions set forth in the funds’ investment charters. In addition, senior members of GSO, including Mr. Goodman and Mr. Smith III, meet regularly with Mr. Schwarzman and Mr. James to discuss investment and risk management activities and market conditions.

The investment decisions for the customized credit long only clients and other clients whose portfolios are actively traded are made by separate investment committees, each of which is composed of certain of the group’s respective senior managing directors, managing directors and other investment professionals. With limited exceptions where the portfolio managers wish to capitalize on time sensitive market opportunities, the investment committee approves all assets that are held by the applicable client. The investment team is staffed by professionals within research, portfolio management, trading and capital formation to ensure active management of the portfolios. Industry-focused research analysts provide the committee with a formal and comprehensive review of any new investment recommendation, while our portfolio managers and trading professionals provide opinions on other technical aspects of the recommendation as well as the risks associated with the overall portfolio composition. Investments are subject to predetermined periodic reviews to assess their continued fit within the funds. Our research team monitors the operating performance of the underlying issuers, while portfolio managers, in concert with our traders, focus on optimizing asset composition to maximize value for our investors.

Structure and Operation of Our Investment Vehicles

Our private investment funds are generally organized as limited partnerships with respect to U.S. domiciled vehicles and limited liability (and other similar) companies with respect to non-U.S. domiciled vehicles. In the case of our separately managed accounts, the investor, rather than us, generally controls the investment vehicle that holds or has custody of the investments we advise the vehicle to make. We conduct the sponsorship and management of our carry funds and other similar vehicles primarily through a partnership structure in which limited partnerships organized by us accept commitments and/or funds for investment from institutional investors and, to a more limited extent, high net worth individuals. Such commitments are generally drawn down from investors on an as-needed basis to fund investments over a specified term. With the exception of certain core+ real estate and real estate debt funds, our private equity and private real estate funds are commitment structured funds. For certain core+ real estate and real estate debt funds, all or a portion of the committed capital is funded on or promptly after the investor’s subscription date and cash proceeds resulting from the disposition of investments can be reused indefinitely for further investment, subject to certain investor withdrawal rights. Our Real Estate business also includes a NYSE-listed REIT, BXMT, a non-exchange traded REIT, and a registered open-ended investment company complex, each of which is externally managed or advised by Blackstone-owned entities. Our credit-focused funds are generally commitment structured funds or open-ended where the investor’s capital is fully funded into the fund upon or soon after the subscription for interests in the fund. Ten credit-focused vehicles that we manage or sub-advise in whole or in part are registered investment companies (including BDCs). The CLO vehicles we manage are structured investment vehicles that are generally private companies with limited liability. Most of our funds of hedge funds as well as our hedge funds are structured as funds where the investor’s capital is fully funded into the fund upon the subscription for interests in the fund.

Our investment funds, separately managed accounts and other vehicles are generally advised by a Blackstone entity serving as investment adviser that is registered under the U.S. Investment Advisers Act of 1940, or “Advisers Act.” Substantially all of the day-to-day operations of each investment vehicle are typically carried out by the Blackstone entity serving as investment adviser pursuant to an investment advisory (or similar) agreement. Generally, the material terms of our investment advisory agreements relate to the scope of services to be rendered by the investment adviser to the applicable vehicle, the calculation of management fees to be borne by investors in our investment vehicles, the calculation of and the manner and extent to which other fees received by the investment adviser from funds or fund portfolio companies serve to offset or reduce the management fees payable by investors in our investment vehicles and certain rights of termination with respect to our investment advisory agreements. With the exception of the registered funds described below, the investment vehicles themselves do not generally register as investment companies under the U.S. Investment Company Act of 1940, or “1940 Act,” in reliance on the

 

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statutory exemptions provided by Section 3(c)(7) or Section 7(d) thereof or, typically in the case of vehicles formed prior to 1997, Section 3(c)(1) thereof. Section 3(c)(7) of the 1940 Act exempts from its registration requirements investment vehicles privately placed in the United States whose securities are owned exclusively by persons who, at the time of acquisition of such securities, are “qualified purchasers” as defined under the 1940 Act. Section 3(c)(1) of the 1940 Act exempts from its registration requirements privately placed investment vehicles whose securities are beneficially owned by not more than 100 persons. In addition, under current interpretations of the SEC, Section 7(d) of the 1940 Act exempts from registration any non-U.S. investment vehicle all of whose outstanding securities are beneficially owned either by non-U.S. residents or by U.S. residents that are qualified purchasers. BXMT is externally managed by a Blackstone-owned entity pursuant to a management agreement, conducts its operations in a manner that allows it to maintain its REIT qualification and also avail itself of the statutory exemption provided by Section 3(c)(5)(C) of the 1940 Act for companies engaged primarily in investment in mortgages and other liens or investments in real estate. Our non-exchange traded REIT is externally advised by a Blackstone-owned entity pursuant to an advisory agreement, conducts its operations in a manner that allows it to maintain its REIT qualification and also avails itself of the statutory exemption provided by Section 3(c)(5)(C) of the 1940 Act.

In some cases, one or more of our investment advisers, including within GSO, BAAM and BREDS advisers, advises or sub-advises funds registered under the 1940 Act. In addition to having an investment adviser, each investment fund that is a limited partnership, or “partnership” fund, also has a general partner that generally makes all operational and investment decisions, including the making, monitoring and disposing of investments. The limited partners of the partnership funds take no part in the conduct or control of the business of the investment funds, have no right or authority to act for or bind the investment funds and have no influence over the voting or disposition of the securities or other assets held by the investment funds. With the exception of certain of our funds of hedge funds, hedge funds, certain credit-focused funds, and other funds or separately managed accounts for the benefit of one or more specified investors, third party investors in our funds have the right to remove the general partner of the fund or to accelerate the liquidation date of the investment fund without cause by a simple majority vote. In addition, the governing agreements of our investment funds provide that in the event certain “key persons” in our investment funds do not meet specified time commitments with regard to managing the fund, then investors in certain funds have the right to vote to terminate the investment period by a specified percentage (including, in certain cases a simple majority) vote in accordance with specified procedures, accelerate the withdrawal of their capital on an investor-by-investor basis, or the fund’s investment period will automatically terminate and the vote of a simple majority of investors is required to restart it. In addition, the governing agreements of some of our investment funds provide that investors have the right to terminate, for any reason, the investment period by a vote of 75% of the investors in such fund.

Incentive Arrangements / Fee Structure

Management Fees

The following describes the management fees received by the Blackstone investment advisers.

 

   

The investment adviser of each of our carry funds generally receives an annual management fee based upon a percentage of the fund’s capital commitments, invested capital and/or undeployed capital during the investment period and the fund’s invested capital or investment fair value after the investment period, except that the investment advisers to certain of our credit-focused carry/incentive funds and core+ real estate funds receive an annual management fee that is based upon a percentage of invested capital or net asset value throughout the term of the fund. These management fees are payable on a regular basis (typically quarterly) in the contractually prescribed amounts over the life of the fund. Depending on the base upon which management fees are calculated, negative performance of one or more investments in the fund may reduce the total management fee paid, but not the fee rate.

 

   

The investment adviser of each of our funds that are structured like hedge funds, or of our funds of hedge funds, registered mutual funds and separately managed accounts that invest in hedge funds, generally receives an annual management fee that is based upon a percentage of the fund’s or account’s net asset

 

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value. These management fees are also payable on a regular basis (typically quarterly). These funds often afford investors increased liquidity through annual, semi-annual or quarterly, or in the case of registered mutual funds, daily, withdrawal or redemption rights, in some cases following the expiration of a specified period of time when capital may not be withdrawn. The amount of management fees to which the investment adviser is entitled with respect thereto will proportionately increase as the net asset value of each investor’s capital account grows and will proportionately decrease as the net asset value of each investor’s capital account decreases.

 

   

The investment adviser of each of our CLOs typically receives annual management fees based upon a percentage of each fund’s assets, subject to certain performance measures related to the underlying assets the vehicle owns, and additional management fees which are incentive-based (that is, subject to meeting certain return criteria). These management fees are also payable on a regular basis (typically quarterly). The term of each CLO varies from deal to deal and may be subject to early redemption or extension; typically, however, a CLO will be wound down within eight to eleven years of being launched. While the management fees tend to be approximately 0.5% per annum of each fund’s aggregate par amount of collateral assets, including principal cash, for the term of the deal, the quantum of fees will decrease as the fund deleverages toward the end of its term.

 

   

The investment adviser of our separately managed accounts generally receives annual management fees typically based upon a percentage of each account’s net asset value or invested capital. The management fees we receive from our separately managed accounts are generally paid on a regular basis (typically quarterly) and may alternatively be based on invested capital or proportionately increase or decrease based on the net asset value of the separately managed account. The management fees we are paid for managing a separately managed account will generally be subject to contractual rights the investor has to terminate our management of an account on as short as 30 days’ prior notice.

 

   

The investment adviser of each of our credit-focused registered and non-registered investment companies typically receives annual management fees based upon a percentage of each company’s net asset value or total managed assets. The management fees we receive from the registered investment companies we manage are generally paid on a regular basis (typically quarterly) and proportionately increase or decrease based on the net asset value or gross assets of the investment company. The management fees we are paid for managing the investment company will generally be subject to contractual rights the company’s board of directors (or, in the case of the BDCs we sub-advise, the investment adviser) has to terminate our management of an account on as short as 30 days’ prior notice.

 

   

The investment adviser of BXMT receives annual management fees based upon a percentage of BXMT’s net proceeds received from equity offerings and accumulated “core earnings” (which is generally equal to its net income, calculated under accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (“GAAP”), excluding certain non-cash and other items), subject to certain adjustments. The management fees we receive from managing BXMT are paid quarterly and increase or decrease based on, among other things, BXMT’s net proceeds received from equity offerings and accumulated core earnings (subject to certain adjustments).

 

   

The investment adviser of our non-exchange traded REIT receives a management fee based on a percentage of the REIT’s net asset value, payable monthly.

For additional information regarding the management fee rates we receive, see “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Critical Accounting Policies — Revenue Recognition — Management and Advisory Fees, Net.”

Incentive Fees

The general partners or similar entities of each of our hedge fund structures receive performance based allocation fees (“incentive fees”) of generally up to 20% of the applicable fund’s net capital appreciation per annum, subject to certain net loss carry forward (known as a “high water mark”) and/or other hurdle provisions. In some

 

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cases, the investment adviser of each of our funds of hedge funds, separately managed accounts that invest in hedge funds and certain non-U.S. registered investment companies, is entitled to an incentive fee of generally up to 15% of the applicable investment vehicle’s net appreciation, subject to a high water mark and in some cases a preferred return. In addition, for the BDCs we sub-advise, we receive incentive fees of 10% of the vehicle’s net appreciation per annum (in certain cases paid quarterly), subject to a preferred return. The external manager of BXMT is entitled to an incentive fee, payable quarterly, in an amount, not less than zero, equal to the product of (a) 20% and (b) the excess of (i) BXMT’s core earnings for the previous 12-month period over (ii) an amount equal to 7% per annum multiplied by BXMT’s average outstanding equity (as defined in the management agreement), provided that BXMT’s core earnings over the prior three-year period are greater than zero. The special limited partner, an affiliate of our non-exchange traded REIT, is entitled to a performance participation interest, which is paid annually and accrues monthly, in an amount equal to 12.5% of it’s total return, subject to a 5% hurdle amount and a high water mark with a catch-up. In addition, the general partner of certain core+ real estate funds is entitled to an incentive fee allocation of up to 10% of excess profits, subject to a 7% hurdle amount and a loss recovery amount with a catch-up. Incentive Fees are realized at the end of a measurement period, typically annually for hedge funds and every three years from when a limited partner makes its initial investment for a certain core+ real estate fund. Once realized, such fees are not subject to clawback.

Carried Interest

The general partner or an affiliate of each of our carry funds also receives carried interest from the investment fund. Carried interest entitles the general partner (or an affiliate) to a preferred allocation of income and gains from a fund. Our ability to generate carried interest is an important element of our business and carried interest has historically accounted for a very significant portion of our income.

The carried interest is typically structured as a net profits interest in the applicable fund. In the case of our carry funds, carried interest is calculated on a “realized gain” basis, and each general partner is generally entitled to a carried interest equal to 20% of the net realized income and gains (generally taking into account realized and unrealized losses) generated by such fund, except that the general partners (or affiliates) of certain of our credit-focused funds, real estate debt funds, core+ real estate funds, Tactical Opportunities funds, multi-asset class investment funds and secondary funds of funds, and our core private equity fund, are generally entitled to a carried interest that ranges between 10% and 20%, depending on the specific fund (subject to variation across our business units and funds). Net realized income or loss is not netted between or among funds, and in some cases our carry funds provide for carried interest on current income distributions (subject to certain conditions).

For most carry funds, the carried interest is subject to an annual preferred limited partner return ranging from 5% to 8%, subject to a catch-up allocation to the general partner. Some of our carry funds (e.g., our Tactical Opportunities funds generally) do not provide for a preferred return, and generally the terms of our carry funds vary in certain respects across our business units and vintages. If, at the end of the life of a carry fund (or earlier with respect to certain of our real estate, real estate debt, core+ real estate and multi-asset class and/or opportunistic investment funds), as a result of diminished performance of later investments in a carry fund’s life, (a) the general partner receives in excess of the relevant carried interest percentage(s) applicable to the fund as applied to the fund’s cumulative net profits over the life of the fund, or (in certain cases) (b) the carry fund has not achieved investment returns that exceed the preferred return threshold (if applicable), then we will be obligated to repay an amount equal to the carried interest that was previously distributed to us that exceeds the amounts to which the relevant general partner was ultimately entitled on an after tax basis. This obligation is known as a “clawback” obligation and is an obligation of any person who directly received such carried interest, including us and our employees who participate in our carried interest plans.

Although a portion of any distributions by us to our unitholders may include any carried interest received by us, we do not intend to seek fulfillment of any clawback obligation by seeking to have our unitholders return any portion of such distributions attributable to carried interest associated with any clawback obligation. To the extent we are required to fulfill a clawback obligation, however, our general partner may determine to decrease the amount

 

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of our distributions to common unitholders. The clawback obligation operates with respect to a given carry fund’s own net investment performance only and carried interest of other funds is not netted for determining this contingent obligation. Moreover, although a clawback obligation is several, the governing agreements of most of our funds provide that to the extent another recipient of carried interest (such as a current or former employee) does not fund his or her respective share of the clawback obligation then due, then we and our employees who participate in such carried interest plans may have to fund additional amounts (generally an additional 50-67%) although we retain the right to pursue any remedies that we have under such governing agreements against those carried interest recipients who fail to fund their obligations. We have recorded a contingent repayment obligation equal to the amount that would be due on December 31, 2016, if the various carry funds were liquidated at their current carrying value.

For additional information concerning the clawback obligations we could face, see “Item 1A. Risk Factors — We may not have sufficient cash to pay back ‘clawback’ obligations if and when they are triggered under the governing agreements with our investors.”

Advisory and Transaction Fees

Some of our investment advisers, particularly real estate and credit advisers, receive customary fees (for example, acquisition, origination and other transaction fees) upon consummation of their funds’ transactions, and may from time to time receive advisory, monitoring and other fees in connection with their activities. The transaction fees that they receive are generally calculated as a percentage (that generally can range up to 3%) of the total value of the acquired asset or the par value of the originated loan, as applicable. For most of the funds where we receive such fees, we are required to reduce the management fees charged to the funds’ limited partners by 50% to 100% of such limited partner’s share of such fees.

Capital Invested In and Alongside Our Investment Funds

To further align our interests with those of investors in our investment funds, we have invested the firm’s capital and that of our personnel in the investment funds we sponsor and manage. Minimum general partner capital commitments to our investment funds are determined separately with respect to our investment funds and, generally, are less than 5% of the limited partner commitments of any particular fund. See “Part II. Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity Needs” for more information regarding our minimum general partner capital commitments to our funds. We determine whether to make general partner capital commitments to our funds in excess of the minimum required commitments based on, among other things, our anticipated liquidity, working capital and other capital needs. In many cases, we require our senior managing directors and other professionals to fund a portion of the general partner capital commitments to our funds. In other cases, we may from time to time offer to our senior managing directors and employees a part of the funded or unfunded general partner commitments to our investment funds. Our general partner capital commitments are funded with cash and not with carried interest or deferral of management fees.

Investors in many of our funds also receive the opportunity to make additional “co-investments” with the investment funds. Our personnel, as well as Blackstone itself, also have the opportunity to make co-investments, which we refer to as “side-by-side investments,” with many of our carry funds. Co-investments and side-by-side investments are investments in portfolio companies or other assets on the same terms and conditions as those acquired by the applicable fund. Co-investments refer to investments arranged by us that are made by our limited partner investors (and other investors in some instances) in a portfolio company or other assets alongside an investment fund. In certain cases, limited partner investors may pay additional management fees or carried interest in connection with such co-investments. Side-by-side investments are similar to co-investments but are made by directors, officers, senior managing directors, employees and certain affiliates of Blackstone. These investments are generally made pursuant to a binding election, subject to certain limitations, made once a year for the estimated activity during the ensuing 12 months under which those persons are permitted to make investments alongside a particular carry fund in all transactions of that fund for that year. Side-by-side investments are funded in cash and are not generally subject to management fees or carried interest.

 

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Competition

The asset management industry is intensely competitive, and we expect it to remain so. We compete both globally and on a regional, industry and niche basis. We compete on the basis of a number of factors, including investment performance, transaction execution skills, access to capital, access to and retention of qualified personnel, reputation, range of products and services, innovation and price.

We face competition both in the pursuit of outside investors for our investment funds and in acquiring investments in attractive portfolio companies and making other investments. Although many institutional and individual investors have increased the amount of capital they commit to alternative investment funds, such increases may create increased competition with respect to fees charged by our funds. Certain institutional investors are demonstrating a preference to in-source their own investment professionals and to make direct investments in alternative assets without the assistance of private equity advisers like us. Such institutional investors may become our competitors and could cease to be our clients.

Depending on the investment, we face competition primarily from sponsors managing other private equity funds, specialized investment funds, hedge funds and other pools of capital, other financial institutions including sovereign wealth funds, corporate buyers and other parties. Several of these competitors have significant amounts of capital and many of them have investment objectives similar to ours, which may create additional competition for investment opportunities. Some of these competitors may also have a lower cost of capital and access to funding sources or other resources that are not available to us, which may create competitive disadvantages for us with respect to investment opportunities. In addition, some of these competitors may have higher risk tolerances, different risk assessments or lower return thresholds, which could allow them to consider a wider variety of investments and to bid more aggressively than us for investments that we want to make. Corporate buyers may be able to achieve synergistic cost savings with regard to an investment or be perceived by sellers as otherwise being more desirable bidders, which may provide them with a competitive advantage in bidding for an investment.

In all of our businesses, competition is also intense for the attraction and retention of qualified employees. Our ability to continue to compete effectively in our businesses will depend upon our ability to attract new employees and retain and motivate our existing employees.

For additional information concerning the competitive risks that we face, see “Item 1A. Risk Factors — Risks Related to Our Business — The asset management business is intensely competitive.”

Employees

As of December 31, 2016, we employed approximately 2,240 people, including our 123 senior managing directors. We strive to maintain a work environment that fosters professionalism, excellence, integrity and cooperation among our employees.

Regulatory and Compliance Matters

Our businesses, as well as the financial services industry generally, are subject to extensive regulation in the United States and elsewhere.

All of the investment advisers of our investment funds operating in the U.S. are registered as investment advisers with the SEC (other investment advisers are registered in non-U.S. jurisdictions). Registered investment advisers are subject to the requirements and regulations of the Advisers Act. Such requirements relate to, among other things, fiduciary duties to clients, maintaining an effective compliance program, solicitation agreements, conflicts of interest, recordkeeping and reporting requirements, disclosure requirements, limitations on agency cross and principal transactions between an adviser and advisory clients, and general anti-fraud prohibitions.

 

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Blackstone Advisory Partners L.P., a subsidiary of ours through which we conduct our capital markets services business and certain of our fund marketing and distribution, is registered as a broker-dealer with the SEC and is subject to regulation and oversight by the SEC, is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or “FINRA,” and is registered as a broker-dealer in 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In addition, FINRA, a self-regulatory organization that is subject to oversight by the SEC, adopts and enforces rules governing the conduct, and examines the activities, of its member firms, including our broker-dealer entity. State securities regulators also have regulatory or oversight authority over our broker-dealer entity.

Broker-dealers are subject to regulations that cover all aspects of the securities business, including, among others, the implementation of a supervisory control system over the securities business, advertising and sales practices, conduct of and compensation in connection with public securities offerings, maintenance of adequate net capital, record keeping and the conduct and qualifications of employees. In particular, as a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA, Blackstone Advisory Partners L.P. is subject to the SEC’s uniform net capital rule, Rule 15c3-1. Rule 15c3-1 specifies the minimum level of net capital a broker-dealer must maintain and also requires that a significant part of a broker-dealer’s assets be kept in relatively liquid form. The SEC and various self-regulatory organizations impose rules that require notification when net capital falls below certain predefined criteria, limit the ratio of subordinated debt to equity in the capital structure of a broker-dealer and constrain the ability of a broker-dealer to expand its business under certain circumstances. Additionally, the SEC’s uniform net capital rule imposes certain requirements that may have the effect of prohibiting a broker-dealer from distributing or withdrawing capital and requiring prior notice to the SEC for certain withdrawals of capital.

In addition, certain of the closed-end and open-end mutual funds and investment management companies we manage, advise or sub-advise are registered under the 1940 Act. The 1940 Act and the rules thereunder govern, among other things, the relationship between us and such investment vehicles and limit such investment vehicles’ ability to enter into certain transactions with us or our affiliates, including other funds managed, advised or sub-advised by us.

Pursuant to the U.K. Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, or “FSMA,” certain of our subsidiaries are subject to regulations promulgated and administered by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”). The Blackstone Group International Partners LLP and GSO Capital Partners International LLP are both authorized and regulated by the FCA in the United Kingdom. The FSMA and rules promulgated thereunder form the cornerstone of legislation which governs all aspects of our investment business in the United Kingdom, including sales, research and trading practices, provision of investment advice, use and safekeeping of client funds and securities, regulatory capital, record keeping, approval standards for individuals, anti-money laundering, periodic reporting and settlement procedures. Blackstone Property Management Limited is authorized and regulated by the FCA in the United Kingdom as a property management and advisory company with the ability to administer contracts of insurance.

Blackstone/GSO Debt Funds Management Europe Limited is authorized by the Central Bank of Ireland as an Investment Firm under the European Communities (Markets in Financial Instruments) Regulations 2007. Blackstone/GSO Debt Funds Management Europe II Limited is authorized by the Central Bank of Ireland as an Alternative Investment Fund Manager under the European Union Alternative Investment Fund Managers Regulations 2013. The Blackstone Group Denmark ApS is regulated as an investment adviser by the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority. Certain Blackstone operating entities are licensed and subject to regulation by financial regulatory authorities in Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore: The Blackstone Group Japan K.K., a financial instruments firm, is registered with Kanto Local Finance Bureau (Kin-sho) and regulated by the Japan Financial Services Agency; The Blackstone Group (HK) Limited is regulated by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission; The Blackstone Group (Australia) Pty Limited ACN 149 142 058 and Blackstone Real Estate Australia Pty Limited ACN 604 167 651 each holds an Australian financial services license authorizing it to provide financial services in Australia (AFSL 408376 and AFSL 485716, respectively) and is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission; and The Blackstone Singapore Pte. Ltd is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (Company Registration Number: 201020503E).

 

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The SEC and various self-regulatory organizations and state securities regulators have in recent years increased their regulatory activities, including regulation, examination and enforcement in respect of asset management firms.

As described above, certain of our businesses are subject to compliance with laws and regulations of U.S. federal and state governments, non-U.S. governments, their respective agencies and/or various self-regulatory organizations or exchanges relating to, among other things, marketing of investment products, disclosure and the privacy of client information, and any failure to comply with these regulations could expose us to liability and/or damage our reputation. Our businesses have operated for many years within a legal framework that requires our being able to monitor and comply with a broad range of legal and regulatory developments that affect our activities. However, additional legislation, changes in rules promulgated by self-regulatory organizations or changes in the interpretation or enforcement of existing laws and rules, either in the United States or elsewhere, may directly affect our mode of operation and profitability.

Rigorous legal and compliance analysis of our businesses and investments is endemic to our culture and risk management. Our Chief Legal Officer and Global Head of Compliance, together with the Chief Compliance Officers of each of our businesses, supervise our compliance personnel, who are responsible for addressing all regulatory and compliance matters that affect our activities. We strive to maintain a culture of compliance through the use of policies and procedures such as codes of conduct, compliance systems, testing and monitoring, communication of compliance guidance and employee education and training. Our compliance policies and procedures address a variety of regulatory and compliance matters such as the handling of material non-public information, personal securities trading, marketing practices, gifts and entertainment, valuation of investments on a fund-specific basis, document retention, potential conflicts of interest, the allocation of investment opportunities, collection of fees and expense allocation.

Our compliance group also monitors the information barriers that we maintain between the public and private sides of Blackstone’s businesses. We believe that our various businesses’ access to the intellectual knowledge and contacts and relationships that reside throughout our firm benefits all of our businesses. To maximize that access without compromising compliance with our legal and contractual obligations, our compliance group oversees and monitors the communications between groups that are on the private side of our information barrier and groups that are on the public side, as well as between different public side groups. Our compliance group also monitors contractual obligations that may be impacted and potential conflicts that may arise in connection with these inter-group discussions.

In addition, disclosure controls and procedures and internal controls over financial reporting are documented, tested and assessed for design and operating effectiveness in compliance with the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (“Sarbanes-Oxley”). We have an Internal Audit department with a global mandate and dedicated resources that provides risk-based audit, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and advisory practices. Internal Audit, which reports directly to the audit committee of the board of directors of our general partner, aims to provide reasonable, independent, and objective assurance to our management and the board of directors of our general partner that risks are well managed and that controls are appropriate and effective.

Our enterprise risk management practices include review and monitoring of our business, investment and other key risks at various levels, including at the fund, business unit and corporate level. Committees comprised of members of management and representatives of various business units and corporate functions consider and evaluate legal, reputational, operational, control and other risks attendant to our business. In addition, senior management regularly reports to the audit committee of the board of directors of our general partner on risk matters, including by providing periodic risk reports, an overview of management’s view of key risks to the firm and detailed assessments of selected risks.

There are a number of pending or recently enacted legislative and regulatory initiatives in the United States and in Europe that could significantly affect our business. Please see “Item 1A. Risk Factors — Risks Related to Our Business — Regulatory changes in the United States could adversely affect our business” and “Item 1A. Risk

 

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Factors — Risks Related to Our Business — Recent regulatory changes in jurisdictions outside the United States could adversely affect our business.”

Available Information

The Blackstone Group L.P. is a Delaware limited partnership that was formed on March 12, 2007.

We file annual, quarterly and current reports and other information with the SEC. These filings are available to the public over the internet at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. You may also read and copy any document we file at the SEC’s public reference room located at 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549. Please call the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330 for further information on the public reference room.

Our principal internet address is www.blackstone.com. We make available free of charge on or through www.blackstone.com our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. The contents of our website are not, however, a part of this report.

 

ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

Risks Related to Our Business

Difficult market conditions can adversely affect our business in many ways, including by reducing the value or performance of the investments made by our investment funds and reducing the ability of our investment funds to raise or deploy capital, each of which could materially reduce our revenue, earnings and cash flow and adversely affect our financial prospects and condition.

Our business is materially affected by conditions in the global financial markets and economic conditions or events throughout the world that are outside our control, including but not limited to changes in interest rates, availability of credit, inflation rates, economic uncertainty, changes in laws (including laws relating to taxation), trade barriers, commodity prices, currency exchange rates and controls and national and international political circumstances (including wars, terrorist acts or security operations). These factors may affect the level and volatility of securities prices and the liquidity and the value of investments, and we may not be able to or may choose not to manage our exposure to these market conditions and/or other events. In the event of a market downturn each of our businesses could be affected in different ways.

Turmoil in the global financial markets, such as occurred in 2008-2009, can provoke significant volatility of equity and debt securities prices. This can have a material and rapid impact on our mark-to-market valuations particularly with respect to our public holdings and credit investments. As publicly traded equity securities have in recent years represented a significant proportion of the assets of many of our carry funds, stock market volatility may have a greater impact on our reported results than in the past and declines in the stock market may adversely affect our results, including our revenues and net income. A lack of credit resulting from turmoil in the global financial markets in the future may materially hinder the initiation of new, large-sized transactions for our private equity and real estate segments and adversely impact our operating results. Although base rates are inside of historical averages and financing costs remain low, there is some concern that the monetary policy of central banks, including of the U.S. Federal Reserve, potential tax and regulatory reform, and other market factors may lead to rising interest rates and adversely impact the cost and availability of credit, as well as the value of our investments. In addition, many emerging economies continue to experience weakness, tighter credit conditions and a decreased availability of foreign capital. A strong U.S. dollar, which could be associated with rising interest rates and pro-export policies, could have an adverse impact on economic growth in emerging economies. In addition, 2016 was a year of significant financial market volatility and geopolitical change, including, among other major events, the U.K. vote to leave the European Union (“Brexit”). Although the long-term impact on economic conditions is uncertain, Brexit may have an adverse effect on the rate of economic growth in the U.K. and Europe, which may negatively impact real estate and other asset values in those regions.

 

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Although interest rates have been at historically low levels for the last few years, the U.S. Federal Reserve raised rates in late 2016 and has indicated an intention to continue raising rates in 2017. A period of sharply rising interest rates could create downward pressure on the price of real estate and increase the cost of debt financing for the transactions we pursue, each of which may have an adverse impact on our business.

Many investments made by our funds are highly illiquid, and we may not be able to realize investments in a timely manner. During early 2016, for example, volatile equity and credit markets resulted in reduced opportunities for our funds to exit and realize value from their existing investments. Although volatility has subsided in recent months and opportunities for exit through the equity markets have increased, uncertainty surrounding potential changes to governmental policy may impact these market conditions. Although the equity markets are not the only means by which we exit investments, should we experience another period of challenging equity markets, our funds may experience increased difficulty in realizing value from investments. We are unable to predict whether and to what extent uncertainty surrounding economic and market conditions will be reduced, and even in the absence of uncertainty, adverse conditions and/or other events in particular sectors may cause our performance to suffer further.

Challenging market and economic conditions have also made it and may in the future make it more difficult and competitive to find suitable investments for the funds to effectively deploy capital. This could adversely affect our performance and ability to raise new funds. During periods of difficult market conditions or slowdowns (which may be across one or more industries, sectors or geographies), our funds’ portfolio companies may experience adverse operating performance, decreased revenues, credit rating downgrades, financial losses, difficulty in obtaining access to financing and increased funding costs. Negative financial results in our investment funds’ portfolio companies may result in lower investment returns for our investment funds, which could materially and adversely affect our ability to raise new funds as well as our operating results and cash flow. To the extent the operating performance of those portfolio companies (as well as valuation multiples) do not improve or other portfolio companies experience adverse operating performance, our investment funds may sell those assets at values that are less than we projected or even a loss, thereby significantly affecting those investment funds’ performance and consequently our operating results and cash flow. During such periods of weakness, our investment funds’ portfolio companies may also have difficulty expanding their businesses and operations or meeting their debt service obligations or other expenses as they become due, including expenses payable to us. Furthermore, such negative market conditions could potentially result in a portfolio company entering bankruptcy proceedings, thereby potentially resulting in a complete loss of the fund’s investment in such portfolio company and a significant negative impact to the investment fund’s performance and consequently to our operating results and cash flow, as well as to our reputation. In addition, negative market conditions would also increase the risk of default with respect to investments held by our investment funds that have significant debt investments, such as our credit-focused funds. Estimates or projections of market conditions, commodity prices and supply and demand dynamics are key factors in evaluating potential investment opportunities and valuing the investments made by our funds. These estimates are subject to wide variances based on changes in market conditions, underlying assumptions, commodity prices and technical or investment-related assumptions.

In addition, the performance of the investments made by our credit and private equity funds in the energy and natural resources markets are also subject to a high degree of market risk given, among other matters, the volatility of commodity prices. See “— Investments by our funds in the power and energy industries involve various operational, construction, regulatory and market risks that could adversely affect our results of operations, liquidity and financial condition.”

Our operating performance may also be adversely affected by our fixed costs and other expenses and the possibility that we would be unable to scale back other costs within a time frame sufficient to match any decreases in revenue relating to changes in market and economic conditions. In order to reduce expenses in the face of a difficult economic environment, we may need to cut back or eliminate the use of certain services or service providers, or terminate the employment of a significant number of our personnel that, in each case, could be important to our business and without which our operating results could be adversely affected.

 

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Changes in the debt financing markets could negatively impact the ability of our funds and their portfolio companies to obtain attractive financing or refinancing for their investments and could increase the cost of such financing if it is obtained, which could lead to lower-yielding investments and potentially decrease our net income.

A significant contraction in the market for debt financing, such as the contraction that occurred in 2008 and 2009 or other adverse change relating to the terms of debt financing (such as, for example, higher rates, higher equity requirements, and/or more restrictive covenants), particularly in the area of acquisition financings for private equity and real estate transactions, could have a material adverse impact on our business. In addition, the financing of acquisitions or the operations of our funds’ portfolio companies with debt could also become less attractive to the extent the deductibility of corporate interest expense is limited. See “— Possible U.S. federal income tax reform, could adversely affect us.” If our funds are unable to obtain committed debt financing for potential acquisitions, can only obtain debt financing at an increased interest rate or on unfavorable terms or the ability to deduct corporate interest expense is limited, our funds may have difficulty completing otherwise profitable acquisitions or may generate profits that are lower than would otherwise be the case, either of which could lead to a decrease in our revenues. Similarly, our funds’ portfolio companies regularly utilize the corporate debt markets in order to obtain financing for their operations. To the extent that the credit markets and/or regulatory or tax changes render such financing difficult to obtain, more expensive or otherwise less attractive, this may also negatively impact the financial results of those portfolio companies and, therefore, the investment returns on our funds. In addition, to the extent that market conditions and/or regulatory changes make it difficult or impossible to refinance debt that is maturing in the near-term, some of our funds’ portfolio companies may be unable to repay such debt at maturity and may be forced to sell assets, undergo a recapitalization or seek bankruptcy protection.

A decline in the pace or size of investment made by our funds may adversely affect our revenues.

The revenues that we earn are driven in part by the pace at which our funds make investments and the size of those investments, and a decline in the pace or the size of such investments may reduce our revenues. Many factors could cause such a decline in the pace of investment, including high prices, the inability of our investment professionals to identify attractive investment opportunities, competition for such opportunities among other potential acquirers, decreased availability of capital on attractive terms and our failure to consummate identified investment opportunities because of business, regulatory or legal complexities or uncertainty and adverse developments in the U.S. or global economy or financial markets. In addition, an increase in the pace at which our funds exit investments could reduce the fee revenue we earn if such exits are not offset by new commitments and investments.

Our revenue, earnings, net income and cash flow are all highly variable, which may make it difficult for us to achieve steady earnings growth on a quarterly basis and may cause the price of our common units to decline.

Our revenue, net income and cash flow are all highly variable. For example, our cash flow may fluctuate significantly due to the fact that we receive carried interest from our carry funds only when investments are realized and achieve a certain preferred return. In addition, transaction fees received by our carry funds can vary significantly from quarter to quarter. We may also experience fluctuations in our results, including our revenue and net income, from quarter to quarter due to a number of other factors, including changes in the valuations of our funds’ investments, changes in the amount of distributions, dividends or interest paid in respect of investments, changes in our operating expenses, the degree to which we encounter competition and general economic and market conditions. In particular, economic and market conditions may lead to volatility in the mark-to-market valuations of investments made by our funds, particularly in respect of our public investments. The valuations of investments made by our funds could also be subject to high volatility as a result of uncertainty regarding governmental policy with respect to, among other things, tax reform, financial services regulation, international trade, immigration, healthcare, labor, infrastructure and energy. Achieving steady growth in net income and cash flow on a quarterly basis may be difficult, which could in turn lead to large adverse movements or general increased volatility in the price of our common units.

 

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The timing and receipt of carried interest generated by our carry funds is uncertain and will contribute to the volatility of our results. Carried interest depends on our carry funds’ performance and opportunities for realizing gains, which may be limited. It takes a substantial period of time to identify attractive investment opportunities, to raise all the funds needed to make an investment and then to realize the cash value (or other proceeds) of an investment through a sale, public offering, recapitalization or other exit. Even if an investment proves to be profitable, it may be a number of years before any profits can be realized in cash (or other proceeds). We cannot predict when, or if, any realization of investments will occur. In addition, upon the realization of a profitable investment by any of our carry funds and prior to us receiving any carried interest in respect of that investment, 100% of the proceeds of that investment must generally be paid to the investors in that carry fund until they have recovered certain fees and expenses and achieved a certain return on all realized investments by that carry fund as well as a recovery of any unrealized losses. If we were to have a realization event in a particular quarter, it may have a significant impact on our results for that particular quarter which may not be replicated in subsequent quarters. We recognize revenue on investments in our investment funds based on our allocable share of realized and unrealized gains (or losses) reported by such investment funds, and a decline in realized or unrealized gains, or an increase in realized or unrealized losses, would adversely affect our revenue and possibly cash flow, which could further increase the volatility of our quarterly results. Because our carry funds have preferred return thresholds to investors that need to be met prior to Blackstone receiving any carried interest, substantial declines in the carrying value of the investment portfolios of a carry fund can significantly delay or eliminate any carried interest distributions paid to us in respect of that fund since the value of the assets in the fund would need to recover to their aggregate cost basis plus the preferred return over time before we would be entitled to receive any carried interest from that fund.

The timing and receipt of carried interest also varies with the life cycle of our carry funds. During periods in which a relatively large portion of our assets under management is attributable to carry funds and investments in their “harvesting” period, our carry funds would make larger distributions than in the fundraising or investment periods that precede harvesting. During periods in which a significant portion of our assets under management is attributable to carry funds that are not in their harvesting periods, we may receive substantially lower carried interest distributions.

With respect to most of our funds of hedge funds, our core+ real estate funds and our credit-focused and real estate debt funds structured like hedge funds, our incentive income is paid annually or semi-annually, and the varying frequency of these payments will contribute to the volatility of our cash flow. Furthermore, we earn this incentive income only if the net asset value of a fund has increased or, in the case of certain funds, increased beyond a particular return threshold. Certain of these funds also have “high water marks” whereby we do not earn incentive income during a particular period even though the fund had positive returns in such period as a result of losses in prior periods. If one of these funds experiences losses, we will not be able to earn incentive income from the fund until it surpasses the previous high water mark. The incentive income we earn is therefore dependent on the net asset value of the fund, which could lead to significant volatility in our results.

Because our revenue, net income and cash flow can be highly variable from quarter to quarter and year to year, we do not provide any guidance regarding our expected quarterly and annual operating results. The lack of guidance may affect the expectations of public market analysts and could cause increased volatility in our common unit price.

Adverse economic and market conditions may adversely affect our liquidity position, which could adversely affect our business operations in the future.

We use cash to (a) provide capital to facilitate the growth of our existing businesses, which principally includes funding our general partner and co-investment commitments to our funds, (b) provide capital for business expansion, (c) pay operating expenses and other obligations as they arise, (d) fund capital expenditures, (e) service interest payments on our debt and repay debt, (f) pay income taxes, and (g) make distributions to our unitholders and the holders of Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units. In addition to the cash we received in connection with our initial public offering (“IPO”) and our prior bond offerings, our principal sources of cash are: (a) Fee Related Earnings, (b) Realized Performance Fees net of related profit sharing interests that are included in Compensation

 

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and (c) Blackstone Investment Income related to its investments in liquid funds and its net realized investment income on its illiquid investments. We have also entered into a $1.5 billion revolving credit facility with a final maturity date of August 31, 2021. Our long-term debt totaled $3.4 billion in borrowings from our prior bond issuances and we had no borrowings outstanding against our $1.5 billion revolving credit facility as of December 31, 2016. At the end of 2016, we had $1.8 billion in cash and cash equivalents, $2.8 billion invested in our corporate treasury investments and $2.2 billion invested in Blackstone funds and other investments.

If the global economy and conditions in the financing markets worsen, our fund investment performance could suffer, resulting in, for example, the payment of less or no carried interest to us. The payment of less or no carried interest could cause our cash flow from operations to significantly decrease, which could materially and adversely affect our liquidity position and the amount of cash we have on hand to conduct our operations and make distributions to our unitholders. Having less cash on hand could in turn require us to rely on other sources of cash (such as the capital markets, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms) to conduct our operations, which include, for example, funding significant general partner and co-investment commitments to our carry funds, or to make quarterly distributions to our unitholders. Furthermore, during adverse economic and market conditions, we might not be able to renew all or part of our existing revolving credit facility or find alternate financing on commercially reasonable terms. As a result, our uses of cash may exceed our sources of cash, thereby potentially affecting our liquidity position.

We depend on our founder and other key senior managing directors and the loss of their services would have a material adverse effect on our business, results and financial condition.

We depend on the efforts, skill, reputations and business contacts of our founder, Stephen A. Schwarzman, and other key senior managing directors, the information and deal flow they generate during the normal course of their activities and the synergies among the diverse fields of expertise and knowledge held by our professionals. Accordingly, our success will depend on the continued service of these individuals, who are not obligated to remain employed with us. Several key senior managing directors have left the firm in the past and others may do so in the future, and we cannot predict the impact that the departure of any key senior managing director will have on our ability to achieve our investment objectives. The loss of the services of any of them could have a material adverse effect on our revenues, net income and cash flows and could harm our ability to maintain or grow assets under management in existing funds or raise additional funds in the future. We have historically relied in part on the interests of these professionals in the investment funds’ carried interest and incentive fees to discourage them from leaving the firm. However, to the extent our investment funds perform poorly, thereby reducing the potential for carried interest and incentive fees, their interests in carried interest and incentive fees become less valuable to them and become less effective as incentives for them to continue to be employed at Blackstone.

Our senior managing directors and other key personnel possess substantial experience and expertise and have strong business relationships with investors in our funds, clients and other members of the business community. As a result, the loss of these personnel could jeopardize our relationships with investors in our funds, our clients and members of the business community and result in the reduction of assets under management or fewer investment opportunities.

Our publicly traded structure may adversely affect our ability to retain and motivate our senior managing directors and other key personnel and to recruit, retain and motivate new senior managing directors and other key personnel, both of which could adversely affect our business, results and financial condition.

Our most important asset is our people, and our continued success is highly dependent upon the efforts of our senior managing directors and other professionals. Our future success and growth depends to a substantial degree on our ability to retain and motivate our senior managing directors and other key personnel and to strategically recruit, retain and motivate new talented personnel. Most of our current senior managing directors and other senior personnel have equity interests in our business that are primarily partnership units in Blackstone Holdings (as defined under “Part III. Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director

 

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Independence — Blackstone Holdings Partnership Agreements”) and which entitle such personnel to cash distributions. However, the value of such Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units and the distributions in respect of these equity interests may not be sufficient to retain and motivate our senior managing directors and other key personnel, nor may they be sufficiently attractive to strategically recruit, retain and motivate new talented personnel. Moreover, prior to our IPO, many of our senior managing directors and other senior personnel had interests in each of our underlying businesses which may have entitled to them to a larger amount of cash distributions than they receive in respect of Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units.

Additionally, the retention of an increasingly larger portion of the Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units held by senior managing directors is not dependent upon their continued employment with us as those equity interests continue to vest as time passes. Moreover, the minimum retained ownership requirements and transfer restrictions to which these interests are subject in certain instances lapse over time, may not be enforceable in all cases and can be waived. There is no guarantee that the non-competition and non-solicitation agreements to which our senior managing directors are subject, together with our other arrangements with them, will prevent them from leaving us, joining our competitors or otherwise competing with us or that these agreements will be enforceable in all cases. In addition, these agreements will expire after a certain period of time, at which point each of our senior managing directors would be free to compete against us and solicit investors in our funds, clients and employees.

We might not be able to provide future senior managing directors with equity interests in our business to the same extent or with the same tax consequences from which our existing senior managing directors previously benefited. For example, during his presidential campaign, President Trump expressed support for legislation ending treatment of carried interest as capital gain. If federal, state or local legislation to treat carried interest as ordinary income rather than as capital gain for tax purposes were to be enacted, we and possibly our unitholders would be required to pay a materially higher amount of taxes, thereby adversely affecting our ability to recruit, retain and motivate our current and future professionals. See “— Risks Related to United States Taxation — Our structure involves complex provisions of U.S. federal income tax law for which no clear precedent or authority may be available. Our structure also is subject to potential legislative, judicial or administrative change and differing interpretations, possibly on a retroactive basis.”

Alternatively, the value of the units we may issue senior managing directors at any given time may subsequently fall (as reflected in the market price of our common units), which could counteract the incentives we are seeking to induce in them. Therefore, in order to recruit and retain existing and future senior managing directors, we may need to increase the level of compensation that we pay to them. Accordingly, as we promote or hire new senior managing directors over time, we may increase the level of compensation we pay to our senior managing directors, which would cause our total employee compensation and benefits expense as a percentage of our total revenue to increase and adversely affect our profitability. In addition, issuance of equity interests in our business in the future to senior managing directors and other personnel would dilute public common unitholders.

We strive to maintain a work environment that reinforces our culture of collaboration, motivation and alignment of interests with investors. If we do not continue to develop and implement the right processes and tools to manage our changing enterprise and maintain this culture, our ability to compete successfully and achieve our business objectives could be impaired, which could negatively impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our organizational documents do not limit our ability to enter into new lines of businesses, and we may expand into new investment strategies, geographic markets and businesses, each of which may result in additional risks and uncertainties in our businesses.

Our plan, to the extent that market conditions permit, is to continue to grow our investment businesses and expand into new investment strategies, geographic markets and businesses. Our organizational documents do not limit us to investment management businesses. Accordingly, we may pursue growth through acquisitions of other investment management companies, acquisitions of critical business partners, or other strategic initiatives. In

 

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addition, we expect opportunities will arise to acquire other alternative or traditional asset managers. To the extent we make strategic investments or acquisitions, undertake other strategic initiatives or enter into a new line of business, we will face numerous risks and uncertainties, including risks associated with (a) the required investment of capital and other resources, (b) the possibility that we have insufficient expertise to engage in such activities profitably or without incurring inappropriate amounts of risk, (c) the diversion of management’s attention from our core businesses, (d) assumption of liabilities in any acquired business, (e) the disruption of our ongoing businesses, (f) the increasing demands on or issues related to the combining or integrating operational and management systems and controls, (g) compliance with additional regulatory requirements, and (h) the broadening of our geographic footprint, including the risks associated with conducting operations in non-U.S. jurisdictions. Entry into certain lines of business may subject us to new laws and regulations with which we are not familiar, or from which we are currently exempt, and may lead to increased litigation and regulatory risk. For example, our recent and planned business initiatives include offering registered investment products and the creation of investment products open to retail investors. These activities have and will continue to impose additional compliance burdens on us and could also subject us to enhanced regulatory scrutiny and expose us to greater reputation and litigation risk. See “— We are subject to substantial litigation risks and may face significant liabilities and damage to our professional reputation as a result of litigation allegations and negative publicity.” In addition, if a new business generates insufficient revenues or if we are unable to efficiently manage our expanded operations, our results of operations will be adversely affected. Our strategic initiatives may include joint ventures, in which case we will be subject to additional risks and uncertainties in that we may be dependent upon, and subject to liability, losses or reputational damage relating to, systems, controls and personnel that are not under our control.

If we are unable to consummate or successfully integrate additional development opportunities, acquisitions or joint ventures, we may not be able to implement our growth strategy successfully.

Our growth strategy is based, in part, on the selective development or acquisition of asset management businesses, or other businesses complementary to our business where we think we can add substantial value or generate substantial returns. The success of this strategy will depend on, among other things: (a) the availability of suitable opportunities, (b) the level of competition from other companies that may have greater financial resources, (c) our ability to value potential development or acquisition opportunities accurately and negotiate acceptable terms for those opportunities, (d) our ability to obtain requisite approvals and licenses from the relevant governmental authorities and to comply with applicable laws and regulations without incurring undue costs and delays and (e) our ability to identify and enter into mutually beneficial relationships with venture partners. Moreover, even if we are able to identify and successfully complete an acquisition, we may encounter unexpected difficulties or incur unexpected costs associated with integrating and overseeing the operations of the new businesses. If we are not successful in implementing our growth strategy, our business, financial results and the market price for our common units may be adversely affected.

The spin-off of our financial and strategic advisory services, restructuring and reorganization advisory services, and Park Hill fund placement businesses could result in substantial tax liability for us and/or our unitholders.

On October 1, 2015, we completed the previously announced spin-off of our financial and strategic advisory services, restructuring and reorganization advisory services, and Park Hill fund placement businesses and combined these businesses with PJT Partners, an independent financial advisory firm founded by Paul J. Taubman, to form an independent publicly traded company. We may be responsible for U.S. federal income tax liabilities that relate to the spin-off if certain internal reorganization transactions in connection with the spin-off fail to qualify as tax-free, and our unitholders may also incur U.S. federal income tax liability in such circumstances.

In past years, the U.S. Congress has considered legislation that, if enacted, would have (a) for taxable years beginning ten years after the date of enactment, precluded us from qualifying as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes or required us to hold carried interest through taxable subsidiary corporations and (b) taxed individual holders of common units with respect to certain income and gains at increased rates. If any similar

 

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legislation were to be enacted and apply to us, we could incur a material increase in our tax liability and a substantial portion of our income could be taxed at a higher rate to the individual holders of our common units.

Over the past several years, members of the U.S. Congress and the administration of former President Obama have made a number of legislative proposals to change the taxation of carried interest that would have, in general, treated income and gains, including gain on sale, attributable to an investment services partnership interest, or “ISPI,” as income subject to a new blended tax rate that is higher than the capital gains rate applicable to such income under current law, except to the extent such ISPI would have been considered under the legislation to be a qualified capital interest. Our common units and the interests that we hold in entities that are entitled to receive carried interest would likely have been classified as ISPIs for purposes of this legislation. During his presidential campaign, President Trump expressed support for legislation ending treatment of carried interest as capital gain. Whether or when the U.S. Congress will pass such legislation or what provisions will be included in any final legislation if enacted is unclear.

Some of the above legislative proposals have provided that, for taxable years beginning ten years after the date of enactment, income derived with respect to an ISPI that is not a qualified capital interest and that is subject to the foregoing rules would not meet the qualifying income requirements under the publicly traded partnership rules. Therefore, if similar legislation were to be enacted, following such ten-year period, we would be precluded from qualifying as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes or be required to hold all such ISPIs through corporations. If we were taxed as a U.S. corporation or held all ISPIs through U.S. corporations, our effective tax rate could increase significantly. The federal statutory rate for corporations is currently 35% (although Congress is considering proposals to lower that rate, as discussed below). In addition, we could be subject to increased state and local taxes. Furthermore, common unitholders could be subject to tax on our conversion into a corporation or any restructuring required in order for us to hold our ISPIs through a corporation.

States and other jurisdictions have also considered legislation to increase taxes with respect to carried interest. For example, New York has considered legislation which could have caused a non-resident of New York who holds our common units to be subject to New York state income tax on carried interest earned by entities in which we hold an indirect interest, thereby requiring the non-resident to file a New York state income tax return reporting such carried interest income. Whether or when similar legislation will be enacted is unclear. Finally, several state and local jurisdictions have evaluated ways to subject partnerships to entity level taxation through the imposition of state or local income, franchise or other forms of taxation or to increase the amount of such taxation. If any state were to impose a tax upon us as an entity, our distribution to common unitholders would be reduced.

Possible U.S. federal income tax reform, could adversely affect us.

Both President Trump and the Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives have publicly stated that one of their top legislative priorities is significant reform of the Internal Revenue Code, including significant changes to taxation of business entities. Proposals by members of Congress have included, among other things:

 

   

Reducing corporate tax rates (the highest dropping from 35% to 20%) and reducing individual tax rates (the highest dropping from 39.6% to 33%),

 

   

Changing to a destination-based tax system, which would tax goods where they are consumed rather than produced, by providing for certain border adjustments which would effectively exempt exports from, and subject imports to, U.S. tax,

 

   

Changing to a territorial tax system by exempting dividends from foreign subsidiaries from U.S. tax, but subjecting unrepatriated earnings of foreign subsidiaries to U.S. tax, paid over the course of eight years (8.75% on cash and cash equivalents and 3.5% otherwise),

 

   

Allowing deductions for interest expense only against interest income, with nondeductible net interest expense being carried forward indefinitely,

 

   

Permitted current deductions for investment in tangible and intangible property (excluding land),

 

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Eliminating certain “special interest” deductions and credits,

 

   

Taxing the active business income of pass-through entities at a maximum rate, such as 25%,

 

   

Repealing the 3.8% net investment income tax and corporate and individual alternative minimum taxes, and

 

   

Extending the carryforward of net operating losses.

While President Trump has expressed his support for a number of these proposals, he has also set forth ideas for tax reform that differ in key ways. In particular, in their June 2016 “A Better Way Forward on Tax Reform” (the “House Blueprint”), Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives proposed, as part of a comprehensive package of tax reform, changes to the Internal Revenue Code that would, along with a reduction in the corporate tax rate and accelerating expensing of capital expenditures, prohibit the deductibility of net interest expense. Many of our funds, particularly our private equity and real estate funds, rely heavily on the use of leverage. Changes to the Internal Revenue Code that limit the deductibility of interest expense would increase the after-tax cost of debt financing of acquisitions, which could make the use of leverage for new investments less attractive, require us to adjust our funds’ investment strategies, increase competition for investments relative to strategic buyers with a lower cost of capital and adversely affect our funds’ investment returns. In addition, many of our funds’ portfolio companies regularly utilize the corporate debt markets in order to obtain financing for their operations and to make acquisitions, and limitations on the deductibility of interest could subject such portfolio companies to increased tax liability and adversely affect their profitability.

Both the timing and the details of any such tax reform are unclear. The impact of any potential tax reform on us, our funds’ portfolio companies and our investors is uncertain and could be adverse. Prospective investors should consult their own tax advisors regarding potential changes in tax laws.

Additional proposed changes in taxation of businesses could adversely affect us.

Congress, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) and other government agencies in jurisdictions in which we and our affiliates invest or do business have maintained a focus on issues related to the taxation of multinational companies. The OECD, which represents a coalition of member countries, is contemplating changes to numerous long-standing tax principles through its base erosion and profit shifting (“BEPS”) project, which is focused on a number of issues, including the shifting of profits between affiliated entities in different tax jurisdictions, interest deductibility and eligibility for the benefits of double tax treaties. A number of European jurisdictions have enacted taxes on financial transactions, and the European Commission has proposed legislation to harmonize these taxes under the so-called “enhanced cooperation procedure,” which provides for adoption of EU-level legislation applicable to some but not all EU Member States. These contemplated changes, if adopted by individual countries, could increase tax uncertainty and/or costs faced by us, our funds’ portfolio companies and our investors, change our business model and cause other adverse consequences. The timing or impact of these proposals is unclear at this point. In addition, tax laws, regulations and interpretations are subject to continual changes, which could adversely affect our structures or returns to our investors. For instance, various countries have adopted or proposed tax legislation that may adversely affect portfolio companies and investment structures in countries in which our funds have invested and may limit the benefits of additional investments in those countries.

The potential requirement to convert our financial statements from being prepared in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America to International Financial Reporting Standards may strain our resources and increase our annual expenses.

As a public entity, the SEC may require in the future that we report our financial results under International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”) instead of under GAAP. IFRS is a set of accounting principles that has been gaining acceptance on a worldwide basis. These standards are published by the London-based International

 

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Accounting Standards Board and are more focused on objectives and principles and less reliant on detailed rules than GAAP. Today, there remain significant and material differences in several key areas between GAAP and IFRS that would affect Blackstone. Additionally, GAAP provides specific guidance in classes of accounting transactions for which equivalent guidance in IFRS does not exist. The adoption of IFRS is highly complex and would have an impact on many aspects and operations of Blackstone, including but not limited to financial accounting and reporting systems, internal controls, taxes, borrowing covenants and cash management. A significant amount of time, internal and external resources and expenses over a multi-year period would likely be required for this conversion.

Operational risks may disrupt our businesses, result in losses or limit our growth.

We rely heavily on our financial, accounting, communications and other data processing systems. Our systems may fail to operate properly or become disabled as a result of tampering or a breach of our network security systems or otherwise. In addition, our systems face ongoing cybersecurity threats and attacks. Breaches of our network security systems could involve attacks that are intended to obtain unauthorized access to our proprietary information, destroy data or disable, degrade or sabotage our systems, often through the introduction of computer viruses, cyberattacks and other means and could originate from a wide variety of sources, including unknown third parties outside the firm. Although we take various measures to ensure the integrity of our systems, there can be no assurance that these measures will provide protection. If our systems are compromised, do not operate properly or are disabled, we could suffer financial loss, a disruption of our businesses, liability to our investment funds and fund investors, regulatory intervention or reputational damage.

In addition, we operate in businesses that are highly dependent on information systems and technology. Our information systems and technology may not continue to be able to accommodate our growth, and the cost of maintaining such systems may increase from its current level. Such a failure to accommodate growth, or an increase in costs related to such information systems, could have a material adverse effect on us.

Furthermore, we depend on our headquarters in New York City, where many of our personnel are located, for the continued operation of our business. A disaster or a disruption in the infrastructure that supports our businesses, including a disruption involving electronic communications or other services used by us or third parties with whom we conduct business, or directly affecting our headquarters, could have a material adverse impact on our ability to continue to operate our business without interruption. Our disaster recovery and business continuity programs may not be sufficient to mitigate the harm that may result from such a disaster or disruption. In addition, insurance and other safeguards might only partially reimburse us for our losses, if at all.

Finally, we rely on third party service providers for certain aspects of our business, including for certain information systems and technology and administration of our hedge funds. Any interruption or deterioration in the performance of these third parties or failures or compromises of their information systems and technology could impair the quality of the funds’ operations and could affect our reputation and hence adversely affect our businesses.

Extensive regulation of our businesses affects our activities and creates the potential for significant liabilities and penalties. The possibility of increased regulatory focus could result in additional burdens on our business.

Our business is subject to extensive regulation, including periodic examinations, by governmental agencies and self-regulatory organizations in the jurisdictions in which we operate around the world. These authorities have regulatory powers dealing with many aspects of financial services, including the authority to grant, and in specific circumstances to cancel, permissions to carry on particular activities. Many of these regulators, including U.S. and foreign government agencies and self-regulatory organizations, as well as state securities commissions in the United States, are also empowered to conduct investigations and administrative proceedings that can result in fines, suspensions of personnel, changes in policies, procedures or disclosure or other sanctions, including censure, the issuance of cease-and-desist orders, the suspension or expulsion of a broker-dealer or investment adviser from registration or memberships or the commencement of a civil or criminal lawsuit against us or our personnel.

 

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Moreover, the financial services industry recently has been the subject of heightened scrutiny, and the SEC has specifically focused on private equity. In that connection, the SEC’s prior lists of examination priorities have included, among other things, private equity firms’ collection of fees and allocation of expenses, their marketing and valuation practices and allocation of investment opportunities. We regularly are subject to requests for information and informal or formal investigations by the SEC and other regulatory authorities, with which we routinely cooperate, and which have included review of historical practices that were previously examined. For example, in October 2015, without admitting or denying any wrongdoing, three of our private equity fund advisors consented to the entry of an order settling certain matters in connection with funds formed many years ago relating to historical monitoring fee termination practices and historical practices relating to the application of disparate vendor discounts to Blackstone and to our funds that were charged in 2011. SEC actions and initiatives can have an adverse effect on our financial results, including as a result of the imposition of a sanction or changing our historic practices. Even if an investigation or proceeding did not result in a sanction or the sanction imposed against us or our personnel by a regulator were small in monetary amount, the adverse publicity relating to the investigation, proceeding or imposition of these sanctions could harm our reputation and cause us to lose existing clients or fail to gain new clients.

We rely on complex exemptions from statutes in conducting our asset management activities.

We regularly rely on exemptions from various requirements of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or “Securities Act,” the Exchange Act, the 1940 Act, the Commodity Exchange Act and the U.S. Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended, in conducting our asset management activities. These exemptions are sometimes highly complex and may in certain circumstances depend on compliance by third parties whom we do not control. If for any reason these exemptions were to become unavailable to us, we could become subject to regulatory action or third party claims and our business could be materially and adversely affected. For example, the “bad actor” disqualification provisions of Rule 506 of Regulation D under the Securities Act ban an issuer from offering or selling securities pursuant to the safe harbor rule in Rule 506 if the issuer or any other “covered person” is the subject of a criminal, regulatory or court order or other “disqualifying event” under the rule which has not been waived. The definition of “covered person” includes an issuer’s directors, general partners, managing members and executive officers; affiliates who are also issuing securities in the offering; beneficial owners of 20% or more of the issuer’s outstanding equity securities; and promoters and persons compensated for soliciting investors in the offering. Accordingly, our ability to rely on Rule 506 to offer or sell securities would be impaired if we or any “covered person” is the subject of a disqualifying event under the rule and we are unable to obtain a waiver. The requirements imposed by our regulators are designed primarily to ensure the integrity of the financial markets and to protect investors in our investment funds and are not designed to protect our common unitholders. Consequently, these regulations often serve to limit our activities and impose burdensome compliance requirements.

We and our affiliates from time to time are required to report specified dealings or transactions involving Iran or other sanctioned individuals or entities.

The Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (“ITRA”) expands the scope of U.S. sanctions against Iran. Additionally, Section 219 of the ITRA amended the Exchange Act to require companies subject to SEC reporting obligations under Section 13 of the Exchange Act to disclose in their periodic reports specified dealings or transactions involving Iran or other individuals and entities targeted by certain OFAC sanctions engaged in by the reporting company or any of its affiliates during the period covered by the relevant periodic report. In some cases, ITRA requires companies to disclose these types of transactions even if they were permissible under U.S. law. Companies that currently may be or may have been at the time considered our affiliates have publicly filed and/or provided to us the disclosures reproduced on Exhibit 99.1 of each of our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q filed on May 5, 2016 and August 4, 2016, which disclosures are hereby incorporated by reference herein. We have not independently verified or participated in the preparation of these disclosures. We are required to separately file with the SEC a notice that such activities have been disclosed in this report, and the SEC is required to post this notice of disclosure on its website and send the report to the U.S. President and certain U.S. Congressional committees. The U.S. President thereafter is required to initiate an investigation and, within 180 days of initiating such an

 

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investigation, to determine whether sanctions should be imposed. Disclosure of such activity, even if such activity is not subject to sanctions under applicable law, and any sanctions actually imposed on us or our affiliates as a result of these activities, could harm our reputation and have a negative impact on our business.

Regulatory changes in the United States could adversely affect our business.

As a result of the financial crisis and highly publicized financial scandals, investors have exhibited concerns over the integrity of the U.S. financial markets and the regulatory environment in which we operate in the U.S. There has been active debate over the appropriate extent of regulation and oversight of private investment funds and their managers. We may be adversely affected as a result of new or revised legislation or regulations imposed by the SEC or other U.S. governmental regulatory authorities or self-regulatory organizations that supervise the financial markets. We also may be adversely affected by changes in the interpretation or enforcement of existing laws and rules by these governmental authorities and self-regulatory organizations. For example, in recent years, senior officials at the SEC implemented a “broken windows” policy, meaning that the SEC will pursue even the most minor violations on the theory that publicly pursuing smaller matters will reduce the prevalence of larger matters.

On July 21, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”), which imposed significant changes on almost every aspect of the U.S. financial services industry, including aspects of our business. Among other things, the Dodd-Frank Act includes the following provisions that could have an adverse impact on our ability to conduct our business:

 

   

As described elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, all of the investment advisers of our investment funds operated in the U.S. are registered as investment advisers with the SEC. Private equity and hedge fund advisers registered with the SEC under the Advisers Act are required to maintain extensive records and to file reports.

 

   

On December 16, 2015, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) published a final rule governing margin requirements for uncleared swaps entered into by swap dealers and major swap participants subject to CFTC regulation. The final rule, which became effective on April 1, 2016, generally requires covered swap entities, subject to certain thresholds and exemptions for inter-affiliate swaps, to collect and post margin in respect of uncleared swap transactions with other covered swap entities and financial end-users. These newly adopted rules on margin requirements for uncleared swaps could adversely affect our business, including our ability to enter such swaps or our available liquidity.

 

   

The Dodd-Frank Act authorizes federal regulatory agencies to review and, in certain cases, prohibit compensation arrangements at financial institutions that give employees incentives to engage in conduct deemed to encourage inappropriate risk taking by covered financial institutions. On May 16, 2016, the SEC re-proposed a rule, as part of a joint rulemaking effort with U.S. federal banking regulators that would apply to “covered financial institutions,” including registered investment advisers and broker-dealers that have total consolidated assets of at least $1 billion, and imposes substantive and procedural requirements on incentive-based compensation arrangements. If adopted, the application of this rule to us could limit our ability to recruit and retain investment professionals and senior management executives. However, the proposed rule remains pending and may be subject to significant modifications in 2017.

 

   

The Dodd-Frank Act, under what has become known as the “Volcker Rule,” generally prohibits depository institution holding companies (including foreign banks with U.S. branches and insurance companies with U.S. depository institution subsidiaries), insured depository institutions and subsidiaries and affiliates of such entities (collectively, “banking entities”) from investing in or sponsoring private equity funds or hedge funds. The Volcker Rule became effective as a matter of statute on July 21, 2012, but banking entities had a so-called “conformance period,” which ran until July 21, 2015, to wind down, sell, transfer or otherwise conform their investments and activities to the Volcker Rule, absent an extension by the Federal Reserve or an exemption for certain “permitted activities.” On December 10, 2013, the Federal Reserve and other federal regulatory agencies issued final rules implementing the principal components of the Volcker Rule. For investments in and relationships with

 

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certain funds that were in place prior to December 31, 2013, the Federal Reserve has granted a series of extensions that give banking entities until July 21, 2017 to comply with the Volcker Rule. In addition, a separate extension of up to five years may be sought by banking entities for investments in certain illiquid funds. Divestitures by banking entities of impermissible ownership interests in covered funds to comply with the Volcker Rule may lead to lower prices in the secondary market for interests in our funds, which could have adverse implications for our ability to raise funds from investors who may have considered the availability of secondary market liquidity as a factor in determining whether to invest.

 

   

The Dodd-Frank Act amends the Exchange Act to direct the Federal Reserve and other federal regulatory agencies to adopt rules requiring sponsors of asset-backed securities to retain at least 5% of the credit risk relating to the assets that underlie such asset-backed securities. In October 2014, five federal banking and housing agencies (the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency) and the SEC issued the final credit risk retention rules (the “U.S. Risk Retention Rules”). With respect to the regulation of CLOs, the U.S. Risk Retention Rules generally require that the “sponsor” (which, in most cases, will be us) or a “majority-owned affiliate” thereof (in each case as defined in the U.S. Risk Retention Rules) will retain an “eligible vertical interest” or an “eligible horizontal residual interest” (in each case as defined therein) or any combination thereof in the CLO in the manner required by the U.S. Risk Retention Rules. The U.S. Risk Retention Rules became effective on December 24, 2016 and CLOs issued prior to that date are exempt from the requirements set forth in the U.S. Risk Retention Rules, except in connection with any offer and sale of securities thereunder after the U.S. Risk Retention Rules effective date, which may include circumstances in which the CLO documentation is amended in a material way, or the relevant CLO securities are repriced or refinanced. The U.S. Risk Retention Rules contain provisions that may have adverse effects on us, including the obligation to acquire the required retention interest and hold it for a period of several years, during which we may not hedge the credit risk exposure associated with such securities. The U.S. Risk Retention Rules permit the financing of a required retention interest, provided that such financing be on a full recourse basis. To the extent that we were to employ leverage for our required retention investments, that could cause losses to be earlier and larger than they would have been if leverage were not employed.

Many of these provisions are subject to further rulemaking and to the discretion of regulatory bodies, such as the FSOC, the Federal Reserve and the SEC.

There has been increasing commentary amongst regulators and intergovernmental institutions, including the Financial Stability Board (“FSB”) and International Monetary Fund, on the topic of so-called “shadow banking,” a term generally taken to refer to credit intermediation involving entities and activities outside the regulated banking system. Although private equity firms have generally not been the focus of this commentary in recent months, if regulators were to extend regulatory and supervisory requirements currently applicable to banks to certain sectors or funds of our business or if we are considered to be engaged in “shadow banking,” the regulatory and operating costs associated therewith could adversely impact our business. In the United States:

 

   

The process established by the Dodd-Frank Act for designation of systemically important non-bank firms has provided a means for ensuring that the perimeter of prudential regulation can be extended as appropriate to cover a non-bank firm. The Dodd-Frank Act established the Financial Stability Oversight Council (the “FSOC”), which is comprised of representatives of all the major U.S. financial regulators, to act as the financial system’s systemic risk regulator. The FSOC has the authority to review the activities of non-bank financial companies predominantly engaged in financial activities and designate those companies determined to be “systemically important” for supervision by the Federal Reserve. Such designation is applicable to companies where material distress could pose risk to the financial stability of the United States.

 

   

On April 3, 2012, the FSOC issued a final rule and interpretive guidance regarding the process by which it will designate non-bank financial companies as systemically important. The final rule and interpretive

 

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guidance details a three-stage process, with the level of scrutiny increasing at each stage. Initially, the FSOC applies a broad set of uniform quantitative metrics to screen out financial companies that do not warrant additional review. The FSOC considers whether a company has at least $50 billion in total consolidated assets and whether it meets other thresholds relating to credit default swaps outstanding, derivative liabilities, loans and bonds outstanding, a minimum leverage ratio of total consolidated assets (excluding separate accounts) to total equity of 15 to 1, and a short-term debt ratio of debt (with maturities less than 12 months) to total consolidated assets (excluding separate accounts) of 10%. A company that meets or exceeds both the asset threshold and one of the other thresholds will be subject to additional review. The review criteria could, and is expected to, evolve over time. On April 18, 2016, the FSOC released an update on its multi-year review of asset management products and activities and created an interagency working group to assess potential risks associated with certain leveraged funds. To date, the FSOC has not designated any asset management firms or funds, including Blackstone, as a systemically important financial institution. While we believe it to be unlikely that we would be designated as systemically important, if such designation were to occur, we would be subject to significantly increased levels of regulation, which includes, without limitation, a requirement to adopt heightened standards relating to capital, leverage, liquidity, risk management, credit exposure reporting and concentration limits, restrictions on acquisitions and being subject to annual stress tests by the Federal Reserve. To date, the FSOC has made designations of four non-bank companies as “systemically important” subject to Federal Reserve supervision. The FSOC has since rescinded one such company’s designation, and a federal court, in a decision that is under appeal, has rescinded a second company’s designation.

 

   

On December 18, 2014, the FSOC released a notice seeking public comment on the potential risks posed by aspects of the asset management industry, including whether asset management products and activities may pose potential risks to the U.S. financial system in the areas of liquidity and redemptions, leverage, operational functions, and resolution, or in other areas.

 

   

In connection with the work of the FSOC, on October 31, 2011, the SEC and the CFTC issued a joint final rule on systemic risk reporting designed to assist the FSOC in gathering information from many sectors of the financial system for monitoring risks. This final rule requires large private equity fund advisers, such as Blackstone, to submit reports, on Form PF, focusing primarily on the extent of leverage incurred by their funds’ portfolio companies, the use of bridge financing and their funds’ investments in financial institutions.

Rule 206(4)-5 under the Advisers Act regarding “pay to play” practices by investment advisers involving campaign contributions and other payments to government clients and elected officials able to exert influence on such clients prohibits investment advisers from providing advisory services for compensation to a government client for two years, subject to very limited exceptions, after the investment adviser, its senior executives or its personnel involved in soliciting investments from government entities make contributions to certain candidates and officials in position to influence the hiring of an investment adviser by such government client. Advisers are required to implement compliance policies designed, among other matters, to track contributions by certain of the adviser’s employees and engagements of third parties that solicit government entities and to keep certain records in order to enable the SEC to determine compliance with the rule. Any failure on our part to comply with the rule could expose us to significant penalties and reputational damage. In addition, there have been similar rules on a state level regarding “pay to play” practices by investment advisers.

In June 2011, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, an international body comprised of senior representatives of bank supervisory authorities and central banks from 27 countries, including the United States, announced the final framework for a comprehensive set of capital and liquidity standards, commonly referred to as “Basel III,” for internationally active banking organizations. These new standards, which will be fully phased in by 2019, will require banks to hold more capital, predominantly in the form of common equity, than under the current capital framework. Implementation of Basel III will require implementing regulations and guidelines by member states. In July 2013, the U.S. federal banking regulators announced the adoption of final regulations to implement Basel III for U.S. banking organizations, subject to various transition periods. Compliance with the Basel III

 

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standards may result in significant costs to banking organizations, which in turn may result in higher borrowing costs for the private sector, including our funds and portfolio companies, and reduced access to certain types of credit. See “— Changes in the debt financing markets could negatively impact the ability of our funds and their portfolio companies to obtain attractive financing or refinancing for their investments and could increase the cost of such financing if it is obtained, which could lead to lower-yielding investments and potentially decrease our net income.”

In March 2013, the Federal Reserve and other U.S. federal banking agencies issued updated leveraged lending guidance covering transactions characterized by a degree of financial leverage. In November 2015, in connection with the banking agencies’ most recent review of large credits under the Shared National Credit review, the agencies noted high credit risk and weaknesses related to leveraged lending and for loans related to oil and gas exploration, production and energy services. To the extent that such guidance limits the amount or cost of financing we are able to obtain for our transactions, the returns on our investments may suffer. In addition, in December 2015, the U.S. federal banking agencies issued a statement cautioning financial institutions on rising concentrations in commercial real estate and an easing of related underwriting standards.

In addition, in December 2015, the SEC proposed a new rule that would reduce the ability of registered investment companies to utilize derivatives and other instruments that could be deemed to leverage a fund’s portfolio, which if adopted in its current form, may impact the ability of certain of our registered funds to continue pursuing certain aspects of their current investment strategies.

In addition, in April 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL”) issued a final rule, which generally takes effect on April 10, 2017 and among others things, expands the definition of “investment advice fiduciary” under ERISA and thereby the circumstances in which certain investment advisers and other intermediaries are treated as fiduciaries to ERISA plans and individual retirement accounts. On February 3, 2017, President Trump issued a memorandum asking the DOL to examine the final rule. Whether the final rule will take effect in its current form and/or on the currently proposed timing is impossible to determine. The final rule, if implemented, could have an adverse effect on the distribution of our products to certain investors.

Any changes in the regulatory framework applicable to our business, including the changes described above, may impose additional compliance and other costs, increase regulatory investigations of the investment activities of our funds, require the attention of our senior management, affect the manner in which we conduct our business and adversely affect our profitability. The full extent of the impact on us of the Dodd-Frank Act or any other new laws, regulations or initiatives that may be proposed, including by the Trump administration, which has expressed support for potential modifications to the Dodd-Frank Act and other deregulatory measures, is impossible to determine.

Financial deregulation measures proposed by the Trump administration and members of the U.S. Congress may create regulatory uncertainty for the financial sector, increase competition in certain of our investment strategies and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The Trump administration’s short-term legislative agenda may include certain deregulatory measures for the U.S. financial services industry, including changes to the Volcker Rule, the U.S. Risk Retention Rules, Basel III capital requirements, the FSOC’s authority and other aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act. On February 3, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order calling for the administration to review U.S. financial laws and regulations in order to determine their consistency with a set of core principles identified in the order. One bill, the Financial CHOICE Act (the “CHOICE Act”), which was sponsored by Rep. Jeb Hensarling last year, is being discussed as an avenue for amending the Dodd-Frank Act and may be subject to certain revisions in the near-term. The CHOICE Act would eliminate the power of the FSOC to designate non-bank financial institutions as systemically important, repeal the Volcker Rule and change the structure and powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In addition, the CHOICE Act would allow certain qualifying banking organizations with a satisfactory composite supervisory rating and a non-risk weighted leverage ratio of at least 10% to elect to be exempt from risk-weighted capital ratios, liquidity requirements and other regulations currently applicable to

 

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banking organizations, and would revise the U.S. Risk Retention Rules to remove the risk retention requirement for all asset-backed securitizations other than for certain non-qualifying residential mortgage securitizations. The CHOICE Act is also expected to significantly alter stress testing, possibly exempting qualifying banking organizations from stress tests altogether and eliminating the Federal Reserve Board’s ability to make “qualitative” objections to capital plans submitted by other banking organizations. In addition, the CHOICE Act would also significantly enhance the SEC’s enforcement capabilities and increase the maximum civil penalties and criminal sanctions under federal securities laws, including under the 1940 Act and the Advisers Act.

Whether the CHOICE Act will be enacted, and if so, whether additional amendments would be added during the legislative process remains unclear. However, the results of the recent elections have increased the likelihood that the CHOICE Act or similar financial reform legislation will be enacted. In addition, in the absence of legislative change, the Trump administration may influence the substance of regulatory supervision through the appointment of individuals to the Federal Reserve Board. On February 10, 2017, Daniel K. Tarullo submitted his resignation as a member of the Federal Reserve Board to President Trump, effective on or around April 5, 2017. Governor Tarullo currently serves as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board’s Committee on Supervision and Regulation and has served as Chairman of the Financial Stability Board’s Standing Committee on Supervisory and Regulatory Cooperation. As a result of Governor Tarullo’s resignation, President Trump is expected to soon be able to nominate three of the Federal Reserve Board’s seven seats, including a Vice Chairman for Supervision. The nominations by Mr. Trump may increase the likelihood that the Federal Reserve Board will depart from adopting capital and liquidity requirements for U.S. banking organizations that are more stringent than those that have been agreed upon at the international level, including through the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision’s Basel III framework.

Measures focused on deregulation of the U.S. financial services industry may have the effect of increasing competition for our credit-focused businesses or otherwise reducing investment opportunities. Increased competition from banks and other financial institutions in the credit markets could have the effect of reducing credit spreads, which may adversely affect the revenues of our credit and other businesses whose strategies include the provision of credit to borrowers.

Determining the full extent of the impact on us or any of our funds’ portfolio companies of any such potential financial reform legislation, or whether any such particular proposal will become law, is impossible. However, any such changes may impose additional costs on us and our funds’ portfolio companies, require the attention of our senior management or result in limitations on the manner in which business is conducted, or may ultimately have an adverse impact on the competitiveness of certain non-bank financial service providers vis-à-vis traditional banking organizations.

The potential for governmental policy changes and regulatory reform by the Trump administration and the U.S. Congress as a result of the recent U.S. Presidential and Congressional elections may create regulatory uncertainty for our funds’ portfolio companies and our investment strategies and adversely affect the profitability of our funds’ portfolio companies.

Governmental policy changes and regulatory reform could have a material impact on the investment strategies of our funds. A prolonged environment of regulatory uncertainty may make the identification of attractive investment opportunities and the deployment of capital more challenging. In addition, our ability to identify business and other risks associated with new investments depends in part on our ability to anticipate and accurately assess regulatory and other changes that may have a material impact on the businesses in which we choose to invest. The failure to accurately predict the possible outcome of policy changes and regulatory reform could have a material adverse effect on the returns generated from our funds’ investments and our revenues.

The Trump administration has expressed intent to pursue governmental policy changes and/or regulatory reform in multiple areas, including tax, international trade, immigration, healthcare, labor, infrastructure and energy. While there is currently a substantial lack of clarity around the likelihood, timing and details of many such potential

 

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changes, such changes may adversely affect the companies in which we have invested or choose to invest in the future in a number of ways, including, without limitation:

 

   

Immigration reform, a core component of President Trump’s campaign, has been an early area of focus for his administration. Although the details and timing of potential changes to immigration law are difficult to predict, restrictions on the ability of individuals from certain countries to obtain non-immigrant visas or limitations on the number of individuals eligible for U.S. work visas may make it more difficult for current and future portfolio companies to recruit and retain skilled foreign workers and may increase labor and compliance costs.

 

   

The House Blueprint published by Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2016 proposed changes that would limit the deductibility of net interest expense. Many of our funds’ portfolio companies regularly utilize the corporate debt markets in order to obtain financing for their operations and to make acquisitions, and limitations on the deductibility of interest expense could subject such portfolio companies to increased tax liability and adversely affect their profitability.

 

   

President Trump has raised the possibility of greater restrictions on international trade and significant increases to tariffs on goods imported into the U.S., particularly from China. In addition, the House Blueprint published by Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2016 proposed changes that would exempt from U.S. taxation any profits from the export of goods and services from the U.S. and effectively subject to a 20% tax any imports (by both businesses and consumers) to the U.S., referred to as “border adjustability.” Changes to international trade agreements or the imposition of tariffs or other trade barriers could increase costs, decrease margins, reduce the competitiveness of products and services offered by current and future portfolio companies and adversely affect the revenues and profitability of companies whose businesses rely on goods imported from outside of the U.S. While border adjustability is designed to be offset by changes in value of the U.S. dollar, that premise may not be realized in whole or in part.

 

   

President Trump has expressed support for widespread healthcare reform and the repeal of all or portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). An increase in the size of the uninsured population or a reduction in funds presently available to patients as a result of repeal of significant portions of the ACA could adversely affect multiple businesses in the healthcare industry, including pharmaceutical companies that benefit from purchases by individuals covered by government-subsidized insurance, hospitals that may be required to increase write-offs for bad debt resulting from the inability of insured patients to pay for care and insurance companies that have developed effective plans for participating in healthcare exchanges.

Although there is a substantial lack of clarity regarding the likelihood, timing and details of any such potential changes, such changes may impose additional costs on the companies in which we have invested or choose to invest in the future, require the attention of senior management or result in limitations on the manner in which the companies in which we have invested or choose to invest in the future conduct business.

Changes in U.S. and foreign tax law could adversely affect our ability to raise funds from certain foreign investors.

Under the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”), all entities in a broadly defined class of foreign financial institutions (“FFIs”) are required to comply with a complicated and expansive reporting regime or be subject to a 30% United States withholding tax on certain U.S. payments (and beginning in 2019, a 30% withholding tax on gross proceeds from the sale of U.S. stocks and securities) and non-U.S. entities which are not FFIs are required to either certify they have no substantial U.S. beneficial ownership or to report certain information with respect to their substantial U.S. beneficial ownership or be subject to a 30% U.S. withholding tax on certain U.S. payments (and beginning in 2019, a 30% withholding tax on gross proceeds from the sale of U.S. stocks and securities). The reporting obligations imposed under FATCA require FFIs to enter into agreements with the IRS to obtain and disclose information about certain investors to the IRS. In addition, the administrative and economic

 

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costs of compliance with FATCA may discourage some foreign investors from investing in U.S. funds, which could adversely affect our ability to raise funds from these investors. Other countries such as the United Kingdom and the Cayman Islands have implemented regimes similar to that of FATCA. For example, under an initiative known as Global FATCA, more than 100 OECD member countries have committed to automatic exchange of information relating to accounts held by tax residents of signatory countries, using a Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”). Reporting under CRS is scheduled to commence in 2017 in countries that have signed on as “early adopters.” Compliance with such regimes could result in increased administrative and compliance costs and could subject our investment entities to increased non-U.S. withholding taxes.

Recent regulatory changes in jurisdictions outside the United States could adversely affect our business.

Similar to the environment in the United States, the current environment in jurisdictions outside the United States in which we operate, in particular Europe, has become subject to further regulation. Governmental regulators and other authorities in Europe have proposed or implemented a number of initiatives and additional rules and regulations that could adversely affect our business.

The European Union Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (the “AIFMD”), as transposed into national law within the member states of the European Union (the “EU”), established a new regulatory regime for alternative investment fund managers, including private equity and hedge fund managers. The AIFMD is intended to apply in the additional member states of the European Economic Area (“EEA”), namely, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, but to date the AIFMD has not yet been referenced in the Agreement on the European Economic Area (but on the assumption that the AIFMD will apply harmonized requirements throughout the EEA, we refer to the EEA rather than to the EU). The AIFMD regulates managers established in or with a registered office in the EEA managing one or more alternative investments funds, but it also regulates non EEA-based managers, such as our affiliates, when they seek to market securities of alternative investment funds in the EEA. We have had to comply with these and other requirements of the AIFMD in order to market our investment funds to professional investors in the EEA, including compliance with prescribed pre-investment disclosures, prescribed annual report disclosures, periodic reporting to regulators in respect of each fund marketed, and asset-stripping restrictions in relation to the acquisition of non-listed companies or issuers established in the EEA (these restrictions prohibit certain distributions to shareholders for 24 months following closing of an acquisition). As there is no requirement for member states to operate or maintain a national private placement regime and, if they do, the member state is free to impose rules that are stricter than the minimum required, this has restricted our ability to market our investment funds, e.g., in those states that do not operate national private placement and/or impose such requirements that make it disproportionately burdensome to do so.

In late 2016, we commenced the process of establishing an authorized manager (“AIFM”) in Luxembourg. A fully-authorized AIFM is entitled to market a fund established in the EEA (an “EEA AIF”) to professional investors in the EEA. The Luxembourg AIFM is primarily intended to manage European fund structures that can be marketed to EEA investors under the passport and that can invest in parallel with our non-EEA funds. The European funds will be managed by the AIFM, but will draw on the expertise of the U.S. managers to pursue the relevant investment strategies.

As an authorized AIFM is subject to all of the requirements of the AIFMD, such as rules relating to, among other things, remuneration, minimum regulatory capital requirements, restrictions on the use of leverage, requirements in relation to liquidity, risk management and valuation of assets, the establishment of a platform in the EEA may increase the ongoing cost of administration and compliance with the AIFMD, including costs and expenses of collecting and collating data of the EEA funds and the preparation of regular reports to be filed with the regulator. The advantages of this structure potentially come at a cost of greater overall complexity, higher compliance and administration costs and less overall flexibility.

Following the financial crisis the FSB has taken on an increasingly important role in promoting the reform of international financial regulation through coordinating national financial authorities and international standard-

 

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setting bodies in their development of regulatory, supervisory and financial sector policies. One of the risks identified by the FSB to the stability of the financial system is credit intermediation (involving maturity and liquidity transformation) and/or a build-up of leverage by non-bank entities — so-called “shadow banking”. The FSB has proposed adoption of a two-pronged strategy to address financial stability risks in shadow banking: (a) create a monitoring framework to track developments in shadow banking; and (b) coordinate and contribute to the development of policies to strengthen oversight and regulation of shadow banking, focusing on measures to: (i) mitigate risks in banks’ interactions with shadow banking entities; (ii) reduce the susceptibility of money market funds to “runs”; (iii) improve transparency and align the incentives in securitization; (iv) dampen pro-cyclicality and other financial stability risks in securities financing transactions such as repos and securities lending; and (v) assess and mitigate financial stability risks posed by other shadow banking entities and activities.

In December 2015, the European Banking Authority (“EBA”) produced guidelines to set appropriate aggregate limits to shadow banking entities when carrying out banking activities. These guidelines came into effect on January 1, 2017. While most alternative investment funds are excluded from the definition of “shadow banking entity,” funds that use leverage on a substantial basis at fund level or have certain third party lending exposures are within the definition. When dealing with shadow banking entities, the EEA financial institution would be required to implement additional effective processes (including with respect to due diligence) and set internal aggregate and individual limits to such exposures where they exceed 0.25% of the institution’s eligible capital. While the guidelines do not themselves introduce a quantitative limit to institutions’ exposures to shadow banking entities at the individual or aggregate exposure level, they place the responsibility on the banking sector to demonstrate that risks are managed effectively. Affected institutions will be required to set internal aggregate and individual limits to exposures to individual shadow banking entities which could limit or restrict the availability of credit and/or increase the cost of credit from these institutions for impacted funds.

In July 2016, Germany introduced legislation to prohibit banks above a certain threshold from conducting credit and guarantee business with: (i) German hedge funds or German funds of hedge funds or (ii) non-German funds which use leverage on a substantial basis within the meaning of the AIFMD. In Germany, certain banks are therefore forbidden from providing loans and/or guarantees to an AIF using leverage on a substantial basis, thereby potentially limiting or restricting the availability of credit and/or increasing the cost of credit for affected funds.

Our investment businesses are subject to the risk that similar measures might be introduced in other countries in which our funds currently have investments or plan to invest in the future, or that other legislative or regulatory measures that negatively affect their respective portfolio investments might be promulgated in any of the countries in which they invest. Blackstone’s non-U.S. advisory entities are, to the extent required, registered with the relevant regulatory authority of the jurisdiction in which the advisory entity is domiciled. In addition, we voluntarily participate in several transparency initiatives, including those organized by the American Investment Council, the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association and others calling for the reporting of information concerning companies in which certain of our funds have investments. The reporting related to such initiatives may divert the attention of our personnel and the management teams of our funds’ portfolio companies. Moreover, sensitive business information relating to us or our funds’ portfolio companies could be publicly released.

Our use of leverage to finance our business will expose us to substantial risks, which are exacerbated by our funds’ use of leverage to finance investments.

We intend to use borrowings to finance our business operations as a public company. For example, in August 2009, September 2010, August 2012, April 2014, April 2015, May 2015 and October 2016, we issued (a) $600 million of 6.625% ten-year senior notes, (b) $400 million of 5.875% ten-year senior notes, (c) $400 million of 4.75% ten-year senior notes and $250 million of 6.25% thirty-year senior notes, (d) $500 million of 5% thirty-year senior notes, (e) $350 million of 4.45% thirty-year senior notes, (f) €300 million of 2% ten-year senior notes, and (g) €600 million of 1% ten-year senior notes, respectively. Borrowing to finance our businesses exposes us to the typical risks associated with the use of leverage, including those discussed below under “— Dependence on significant leverage in investments by our funds could adversely affect our ability to achieve attractive rates of

 

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return on those investments.” In order for us to utilize leverage to finance our business, we are dependent on financial institutions such as global banks extending credit to us on terms that are reasonable to us. There is no guarantee that such institutions will continue to extend credit to us or renew any existing credit agreements we may have with them, or that we will be able to refinance outstanding notes when they mature. We have a credit facility which provides for revolving credit borrowings that has a final maturity date of August 31, 2021. As borrowings under the facility or any other indebtedness mature, we may be required to either refinance them by entering into a new facility, which could result in higher borrowing costs, or by issuing equity, which would dilute existing unitholders. We could also repay them by using cash on hand, cash provided by our continuing operations or cash from the sale of our assets, which could reduce distributions to our unitholders. We could have difficulty entering into new facilities or issuing equity in the future on attractive terms, or at all. These risks are exacerbated by our funds’ use of leverage to finance investments.

We are subject to substantial litigation risks and may face significant liabilities and damage to our professional reputation as a result of litigation allegations and negative publicity.

In recent years, the volume of claims and amount of damages claimed in litigation and regulatory proceedings against the financial services industry in general have been increasing. The investment decisions we make in our asset management business and the activities of our investment professionals on behalf of portfolio companies of our carry funds may subject the companies, funds and us to the risk of third party litigation arising from investor dissatisfaction with the performance of those investment funds, alleged conflicts of interest, the activities of our funds’ portfolio companies and a variety of other litigation claims. From time to time we, our funds and our funds’ portfolio companies have been and may be subject to class action suits by shareholders in public companies that we have agreed to acquire that challenge our acquisition transactions and/or attempt to enjoin them. Please see “Item 3. Legal Proceedings” below for additional information.

In addition, to the extent investors in our investment funds suffer losses resulting from fraud, gross negligence, willful misconduct or other similar misconduct, investors may have remedies against us, our investment funds, our senior managing directors or our affiliates under the federal securities law and/or state law. While the general partners and investment advisers to our investment funds, including their directors, officers, other employees and affiliates, are generally indemnified to the fullest extent permitted by law with respect to their conduct in connection with the management of the business and affairs of our investment funds, such indemnity does not extend to actions determined to have involved fraud, gross negligence, willful misconduct or other similar misconduct.

The activities of our capital markets services business may also subject us to the risk of liabilities to our clients and third parties, including our clients’ stockholders, under securities or other laws in connection with transactions in which we participate.

In addition, our plan, to the extent that market conditions permit, is to continue to grow our investment businesses and expand into new investment strategies, geographic markets, businesses and distribution channels, including the retail channel. To the extent we distribute products through new channels, including through unaffiliated firms, we may not be able to effectively monitor or control the manner of their distribution, which could result in litigation against us, including with respect to, among other things, claims that products distributed through such channels are distributed to customers for whom they are unsuitable or distributed in any other inappropriate manner. In addition, the distribution of products through new channels whether directly or through market intermediaries, including in the retail channel, could expose us to additional regulatory risk in the form of allegations of improper conduct and/or actions by state and federal regulators against us with respect to, among other things, product suitability, conflicts of interest and the adequacy of disclosure to customers to whom our products are distributed through those channels.

If any private lawsuits or regulatory actions were brought against us and resulted in a finding of substantial legal liability, it could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations or cause significant reputational harm to us, which could seriously harm our business. We depend to a large extent on our

 

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business relationships and our reputation for integrity and high-caliber professional services to attract and retain investors and to pursue investment opportunities for our carry funds. As a result, allegations of improper conduct by private litigants or regulators, whether the ultimate outcome is favorable or unfavorable to us, as well as negative publicity and press speculation about us, our investment activities, our new lines of business or distribution channels, or the private equity industry in general, whether or not valid, may harm our reputation, which may be more damaging to our business than to other types of businesses.

Employee misconduct could harm us by impairing our ability to attract and retain clients and subjecting us to significant legal liability and reputational harm. Fraud and other deceptive practices or other misconduct at our funds’ portfolio companies could similarly subject us to liability and reputational damage and also harm performance.

There is a risk that our employees could engage in misconduct that adversely affects our business. We are subject to a number of obligations and standards arising from our asset management business and our authority over the assets managed by our asset management business. The violation of these obligations and standards by any of our employees would adversely affect our clients and us. Our business often requires that we deal with confidential matters of great significance to companies in which we may invest. If our employees were improperly to use or disclose confidential information, we could suffer serious harm to our reputation, financial position and current and future business relationships. Detecting or deterring employee misconduct is not always possible, and the extensive precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in all cases. If one of our employees were to engage in misconduct or were to be accused of such misconduct, our business and our reputation could be adversely affected.

In recent years, the U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC have devoted greater resources to enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). In addition, the United Kingdom has also significantly expanded the reach of its anti-bribery laws. Local jurisdictions, such as Brazil, have also recently brought a greater focus to anti-bribery laws. While we have developed and implemented policies and procedures designed to ensure strict compliance by us and our personnel with the FCPA, such policies and procedures may not be effective in all instances to prevent violations. Any determination that we have violated the FCPA, the U.K. anti-bribery laws or other applicable anti-corruption laws could subject us to, among other things, civil and criminal penalties, material fines, profit disgorgement, injunctions on future conduct, securities litigation and a general loss of investor confidence, any one of which could adversely affect our business prospects, financial position or the market value of our common units.

In addition, we may also be adversely affected if there is misconduct by personnel of portfolio companies in which our funds invest. For example, financial fraud or other deceptive practices at our funds’ portfolio companies, or failures by personnel at our funds’ portfolio companies to comply with anti-bribery, trade sanctions or other legal and regulatory requirements, could cause significant reputational and business harm to us. Such misconduct may undermine our due diligence efforts with respect to such portfolio companies and could negatively affect the valuations of the investments by our funds in such portfolio companies. In addition, we may face an increased risk of such misconduct to the extent our investment in non-U.S. markets, particularly emerging markets, increases.

Poor performance of our investment funds would cause a decline in our revenue, income and cash flow, may obligate us to repay carried interest previously paid to us, and could adversely affect our ability to raise capital for future investment funds.

In the event that any of our investment funds were to perform poorly, our revenue, income and cash flow would decline because the value of our assets under management would decrease, which would result in a reduction in management fees, and our investment returns would decrease, resulting in a reduction in the carried interest and incentive fees we earn. Moreover, we could experience losses on our investments of our own principal as a result of poor investment performance by our investment funds. Furthermore, if, as a result of poor performance of later investments in a carry fund’s life, the fund does not achieve certain investment returns for the fund over its life, we

 

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will be obligated to repay the amount by which carried interest that was previously distributed to us exceeds amounts to which the relevant general partner is ultimately entitled.

Poor performance of our investment funds could make it more difficult for us to raise new capital. Investors in carry funds might decline to invest in future investment funds we raise and investors in hedge funds or other investment funds might withdraw their investments as a result of poor performance of the investment funds in which they are invested. Investors and potential investors in our funds continually assess our investment funds’ performance, and our ability to raise capital for existing and future investment funds and avoid excessive redemption levels will depend on our investment funds’ continued satisfactory performance. Accordingly, poor fund performance may deter future investment in our funds and thereby decrease the capital invested in our funds and ultimately, our management fee revenue. Alternatively, in the face of poor fund performance, investors could demand lower fees or fee concessions for existing or future funds which would likewise decrease our revenue.

Our asset management business depends in large part on our ability to raise capital from third party investors. If we are unable to raise capital from third party investors, we would be unable to collect management fees or deploy their capital into investments and potentially collect transaction fees or carried interest, which would materially reduce our revenue and cash flow and adversely affect our financial condition.

Our ability to raise capital from third party investors depends on a number of factors, including certain factors that are outside our control. Certain factors, such as the performance of the stock market and the asset allocation rules or investment policies to which such third party investors are subject, could inhibit or restrict the ability of third party investors to make investments in our investment funds or the asset classes in which our investment funds invest. For example, during 2008 and 2009, many third party investors that invest in alternative assets and have historically invested in our investment funds experienced significant volatility in valuations of their investment portfolios, including a significant decline in the value of their overall private equity, real estate, venture capital and hedge fund portfolios, which affected our ability to raise capital from them. Coupled with a lack of realizations during that period from their existing private equity and real estate portfolios, many of these investors were left with disproportionately outsized remaining commitments to a number of investment funds, which significantly limited their ability to make new commitments to third party managed investment funds such as those managed by us. Our ability to raise new funds could similarly be hampered if the general appeal of private equity and alternative investments were to decline. An investment in a limited partner interest in a private equity fund is more illiquid and the returns on such investment may be more volatile than an investment in securities for which there is a more active and transparent market. Private equity and alternative investments could fall into disfavor as a result of concerns about liquidity and short-term performance. Such concerns could be exhibited, in particular, by public pension funds, which have historically been among the largest investors in alternative assets. Many public pension funds are significantly underfunded and their funding problems have been, and may in the future be, exacerbated by economic downturn. Concerns with liquidity could cause such public pension funds to reevaluate the appropriateness of alternative investments. Although the amount of commitments investors are making to alternative investment funds has increased in recent years, there is no assurance that this will continue or that our ability to raise capital from investors will not be hampered. In addition, our ability to raise capital from third parties outside of the U.S. could be limited to the extent other countries, such as China, impose restrictions or limitations on outbound foreign investment.

In addition, certain institutional investors, including sovereign wealth funds and public pension funds, have demonstrated an increased preference for alternatives to the traditional investment fund structure, such as managed accounts, smaller funds and co-investment vehicles. There can be no assurance that such alternatives will be as profitable for us as the traditional investment fund structure, or as to the impact such a trend could have on the cost of our operations or profitability if we were to implement these alternative investment structures. Moreover, certain institutional investors are demonstrating a preference to in-source their own investment professionals and to make direct investments in alternative assets without the assistance of private equity advisers like us. Such institutional investors may become our competitors and could cease to be our clients. As some existing investors cease or significantly curtail making commitments to alternative investment funds, we may need to identify and attract new

 

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investors in order to maintain or increase the size of our investment funds. There are no assurances that we can find or secure commitments from those new investors. If economic conditions were to deteriorate or if we are unable to find new investors, we might raise less than our desired amount for a given fund. Further, as we seek to expand into other asset classes, we may be unable to raise a sufficient amount of capital to adequately support such businesses. If we are unable to successfully raise capital, it could materially reduce our revenue and cash flow and adversely affect our financial condition.

Although retail investors have been part of our historic distribution efforts, we have increasingly undertaken business initiatives to increase the number and type of investment products we offer to high net worth individuals, family offices and other mass affluent investors. In some cases we seek to distribute our unregistered funds to such retail investors indirectly through feeder funds sponsored by brokerage firms or private banks and in other cases directly to the qualified clients of independent investment advisors and brokers. In other cases we create registered investment products specifically designed for retail investors. Our initiatives to access retail investors entail the investment of resources and our objectives may not be fully realized. Moreover, accessing retail investors and selling retail directed products exposes us to new and greater levels of risk, including heightened litigation and regulatory enforcement risks. Although we seek to ensure through due diligence and onboarding procedures that the channels through which retail investors access our investment products conduct themselves responsibly, to the extent that our investment products are being distributed through third parties we are exposed to reputational damage and possible legal liability to the extent such third parties improperly sell our products to investors. Similarly, the hiring of employees to cover independent advisors and brokers presents risks if they fail to follow training, review and supervisory procedures.

In addition, in connection with raising new funds or making further investments in existing funds, we negotiate terms for such funds and investments with existing and potential investors. The outcome of such negotiations could result in our agreement to terms that are materially less favorable to us than for prior funds we have managed or funds managed by our competitors. Such terms could restrict our ability to raise investment funds with investment objectives or strategies that compete with existing funds, add additional expenses and obligations for us in managing the fund or increase our potential liabilities, all of which could ultimately reduce our revenues. In addition, certain institutional investors have publicly criticized certain fund fee and expense structures, including management fees and transaction and advisory fees. Although we have no obligation to modify any of our fees with respect to our existing funds, we may experience pressure to do so in our funds. For example, we have confronted and expect to continue to confront requests from a variety of investors and groups representing investors to decrease fees, which could result in a reduction in the fees and carried interest and incentive fees we earn.

Valuation methodologies for certain assets in our funds can be subject to significant subjectivity and the fair value of assets established pursuant to such methodologies may never be realized, which could result in significant losses for our funds.

There are often no readily ascertainable market prices for illiquid investments in our private equity, real estate and certain of our credit-focused funds. We determine the value of the investments of each of our private equity, real estate and credit-focused funds at least quarterly based on the fair value of such investments. The fair value of investments of a private equity, real estate or credit-focused fund is generally determined using several methodologies described in the investment funds’ valuation policies.

Investments for which market prices are not observable include private investments in the equity of operating companies or real estate properties. Fair values of such investments are determined by reference to projected net earnings, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (“EBITDA”), the discounted cash flow method, public market or private transactions, valuations for comparable companies and other measures which, in many cases, are unaudited at the time received. In determining fair values of real estate investments, we also consider projected operating cash flows, sales of comparable assets, if any, replacement costs and capitalization rates (“cap rates”) analyses. Valuations may be derived by reference to observable valuation measures for comparable companies or assets (for example, multiplying a key performance metric of the investee company or asset, such as EBITDA, by a relevant valuation multiple observed in the range of comparable companies or

 

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transactions), adjusted by management for differences between the investment and the referenced comparables, and in some instances by reference to option pricing models or other similar methods. Additionally, where applicable, projected distributable cash flow through debt maturity will also be considered in support of the investment’s fair value. In determining fair values of exploration and production (E&P) investments within the energy sector, we consider the following: projected operating cash flows resulting from the utilization of third party analysis of the reserve quantities, which may from time to time be adjusted for management’s view, combined with the forward strip price for the specific commodity in the near-term, BEP’s long-term view of the commodity price in the outer years, sales of comparable assets, and replacement costs. Valuations may be derived by reference to observable valuation measures for comparable companies or assets (for example, multiplying a key performance metric of the investee company or asset, such as barrel of oil equivalent, or BOE, by a relevant reserve metric observed in the range of comparable companies or transactions), adjusted by management for differences between the investment and the referenced comparables, and in some instances by reference to other similar methods. Additionally, where applicable, given the structured nature of some of the preferred securities, projected distributable cash flow through maturity or other triggering events will also be considered in support of the investment’s fair value. These valuation methodologies involve a significant degree of management judgment.

In certain cases debt and equity securities are valued on the basis of prices from an orderly transaction between market participants provided by reputable dealers or pricing services. In determining the value of a particular investment, pricing services may use certain information with respect to transactions in such investments, quotations from dealers, pricing matrices and market transactions in comparable investments and various relationships between investments.

The determination of fair value using these methodologies takes into consideration a range of factors including but not limited to the price at which the investment was acquired, the nature of the investment, local market conditions, trading values on public exchanges for comparable securities, current and projected operating performance and financing transactions subsequent to the acquisition of the investment. These valuation methodologies involve a significant degree of management judgment. For example, as to investments that we share with another sponsor, we may apply a different valuation methodology than the other sponsor does or derive a different value than the other sponsor has derived on the same investment. These differences might cause some investors to question our valuations.

Because there is significant uncertainty in the valuation of, or in the stability of the value of illiquid investments, the fair values of such investments as reflected in an investment fund’s net asset value do not necessarily reflect the prices that would actually be obtained by us on behalf of the investment fund when such investments are realized. Realizations at values significantly lower than the values at which investments have been reflected in prior fund net asset values would result in losses for the applicable fund, a decline in asset management fees and the loss of potential carried interest and incentive fees. Changes in values attributed to investments from quarter to quarter may result in volatility in the net asset values and results of operations and cash flow that we report from period to period. Also, a situation where asset values turn out to be materially different than values reflected in prior fund net asset values could cause investors to lose confidence in us, which would in turn result in difficulty in raising additional funds or redemptions from our hedge funds.

The historical returns attributable to our funds should not be considered as indicative of the future results of our funds or of our future results or of any returns expected on an investment in our common units.

The historical and potential future returns of the investment funds that we manage are not directly linked to returns on our common units. Therefore, any continued positive performance of the investment funds that we manage will not necessarily result in positive returns on an investment in our common units. However, poor performance of the investment funds that we manage would cause a decline in our revenue from such investment funds, and would therefore have a negative effect on our performance and in all likelihood the returns on an investment in our common units.

 

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Moreover, with respect to the historical returns of our investment funds:

 

   

we may create new funds in the future that reflect a different asset mix and different investment strategies, as well as a varied geographic and industry exposure as compared to our present funds, and any such new funds could have different returns from our existing or previous funds,

 

   

as the global markets rebounded from the financial crisis in recent years, market conditions were largely favorable, which helped to generate positive performance, particularly in our private equity and real estate businesses, although there can be no assurance that such conditions will repeat or that our current or future investment funds will avail themselves of comparable market conditions,

 

   

the rates of returns of our carry funds reflect unrealized gains as of the applicable measurement date that may never be realized, which may adversely affect the ultimate value realized from those funds’ investments,

 

   

the rates of returns of our BCP and BREP funds in some years were positively influenced by a number of investments that experienced rapid and substantial increases in value following the dates on which those investments were made, which may not occur with respect to future investments,

 

   

in recent years, there has been increased competition for private equity investment opportunities resulting from, among other things, the increased amount of capital invested in alternative investment funds,

 

   

our investment funds’ returns in some years benefited from investment opportunities and general market conditions that may not repeat themselves, our current or future investment funds might not be able to avail themselves of comparable investment opportunities or market conditions, and the circumstances under which our current or future funds may make future investments may differ significantly from those conditions prevailing in the past,

 

   

newly established funds may generate lower returns during the period in which they initially deploy their capital, and

 

   

the rates of return reflect our historical cost structure, which may vary in the future due to various factors enumerated elsewhere in this report and other factors beyond our control, including changes in laws.

The future internal rate of return for any current or future fund may vary considerably from the historical internal rate of return generated by any particular fund, or for our funds as a whole. In addition, future returns will be affected by the applicable risks described elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including risks of the industries and businesses in which a particular fund invests.

Dependence on significant leverage in investments by our funds could adversely affect our ability to achieve attractive rates of return on those investments.

Many of our carry funds’ investments rely heavily on the use of leverage, and our ability to achieve attractive rates of return on investments will depend on our ability to access sufficient sources of indebtedness at attractive rates. For example, in many private equity investments, indebtedness may constitute as much as 70% or more of a portfolio company’s or real estate asset’s total debt and equity capitalization, including debt that may be incurred in connection with the investment. The absence of available sources of sufficient senior debt financing for extended periods of time could therefore materially and adversely affect our private equity and real estate businesses. In addition, in March 2013, the Federal Reserve and other U.S. federal banking agencies issued updated leveraged lending guidance covering transactions characterized by a degree of financial leverage. In November 2015, in connection with the banking agencies’ most recent review of large credits under the Shared National Credit review, the agencies noted high credit risk and weaknesses related to leveraged lending and for loans related to oil and gas exploration, production and energy services. Such guidance may limit the amount or cost of financing we are able to obtain for our transactions, and as a result, the returns on our investments may suffer. See “— Regulatory changes in the United States could adversely affect our business.” Furthermore, any tax reform limiting the deductibility of corporate interest expense could make it more costly to use debt financing for our acquisitions or otherwise have an

 

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adverse impact on the cost structure of our transactions, and could therefore adversely affect the returns on our funds’ investments. See “— Possible U.S. federal income tax reform, could adversely affect us.”

In addition, an increase in either the general levels of interest rates or in the risk spread demanded by sources of indebtedness would make it more expensive to finance those businesses’ investments. Increases in interest rates could also make it more difficult to locate and consummate private equity investments because other potential buyers, including operating companies acting as strategic buyers, may be able to bid for an asset at a higher price due to a lower overall cost of capital or their ability to benefit from a higher amount of cost savings following the acquisition of the asset. In addition, a portion of the indebtedness used to finance private equity investments often includes high yield debt securities issued in the capital markets. Availability of capital from the high yield debt markets is subject to significant volatility, and there may be times when we might not be able to access those markets at attractive rates, or at all, when completing an investment.

Investments in highly leveraged entities are inherently more sensitive to declines in revenues, increases in expenses and interest rates and adverse economic, market and industry developments. The incurrence of a significant amount of indebtedness by an entity could, among other things:

 

   

give rise to an obligation to make mandatory pre-payments of debt using excess cash flow, which might limit the entity’s ability to respond to changing industry conditions to the extent additional cash is needed for the response, to make unplanned but necessary capital expenditures or to take advantage of growth opportunities,

 

   

limit the entity’s ability to adjust to changing market conditions, thereby placing it at a competitive disadvantage compared to its competitors who have relatively less debt,

 

   

allow even moderate reductions in operating cash flow to render it unable to service its indebtedness, leading to a bankruptcy or other reorganization of the entity and a loss of part or all of the equity investment in it,

 

   

limit the entity’s ability to engage in strategic acquisitions that might be necessary to generate attractive returns or further growth, and

 

   

limit the entity’s ability to obtain additional financing or increase the cost of obtaining such financing, including for capital expenditures, working capital or general corporate purposes.

As a result, the risk of loss associated with a leveraged entity is generally greater than for companies with comparatively less debt. For example, many investments consummated by private equity sponsors during 2005, 2006 and 2007 that utilized significant amounts of leverage subsequently experienced severe economic stress and, in certain cases, defaulted on their debt obligations due to a decrease in revenues and cash flow precipitated by the subsequent economic downturn during 2008 and 2009.

When our BCP and BREP funds’ existing portfolio investments reach the point when debt incurred to finance those investments mature in significant amounts and must be either repaid or refinanced, those investments may materially suffer if they have generated insufficient cash flow to repay maturing debt and there is insufficient capacity and availability in the financing markets to permit them to refinance maturing debt on satisfactory terms, or at all. If a limited availability of financing for such purposes were to persist for an extended period of time, when significant amounts of the debt incurred to finance our private equity and real estate funds’ existing portfolio investments came due, these funds could be materially and adversely affected.

Many of the hedge funds in which our funds of hedge funds invest and our credit-focused funds, CLOs may choose to use leverage as part of their respective investment programs and regularly borrow a substantial amount of their capital. The use of leverage poses a significant degree of risk and enhances the possibility of a significant loss in the value of the investment portfolio. A fund may borrow money from time to time to purchase or carry securities or may enter into derivative transactions (such as total return swaps) with counterparties that have embedded

 

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leverage. The interest expense and other costs incurred in connection with such borrowing may not be recovered by appreciation in the securities purchased or carried and will be lost — and the timing and magnitude of such losses may be accelerated or exacerbated — in the event of a decline in the market value of such securities. Gains realized with borrowed funds may cause the fund’s net asset value to increase at a faster rate than would be the case without borrowings. However, if investment results fail to cover the cost of borrowings, the fund’s net asset value could also decrease faster than if there had been no borrowings.

Increases in interest rates could also decrease the value of fixed-rate debt investments that our investment funds make. In addition, to the extent that any changes in tax law make debt financing less attractive to certain categories of borrowers this could adversely affect the investment opportunities for our credit-focused funds.

Any of the foregoing circumstances could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flow.

The asset management business is intensely competitive.

The asset management business is intensely competitive, with competition based on a variety of factors, including investment performance, the quality of service provided to clients, investor liquidity and willingness to invest, fund terms (including fees), brand recognition and business reputation. Our asset management business competes with a number of private equity funds, specialized investment funds, hedge funds, funds of hedge funds and other sponsors managing pools of capital, as well as corporate buyers, traditional asset managers, commercial banks, investment banks and other financial institutions (including sovereign wealth funds), and we expect that competition will continue to increase. A number of factors serve to increase our competitive risks:

 

   

a number of our competitors in some of our businesses have greater financial, technical, marketing and other resources and more personnel than we do,

 

   

some of our funds may not perform as well as competitors’ funds or other available investment products,

 

   

several of our competitors have significant amounts of capital, and many of them have similar investment objectives to ours, which may create additional competition for investment opportunities and may reduce the size and duration of pricing inefficiencies that many alternative investment strategies seek to exploit,

 

   

some of our competitors, particularly strategic competitors, may have a lower cost of capital, which may be exacerbated to the extent potential changes to the Internal Revenue Code limit the deductibility of interest expense,

 

   

some of our competitors may have access to funding sources that are not available to us, which may create competitive disadvantages for us with respect to investment opportunities,

 

   

some of our competitors may be subject to less regulation and accordingly may have more flexibility to undertake and execute certain businesses or investments than we can and/or bear less compliance expense than we do,

 

   

some of our competitors may have more flexibility than us in raising certain types of investment funds under the investment management contracts they have negotiated with their investors,

 

   

some of our competitors may have higher risk tolerances, different risk assessments or lower return thresholds, which could allow them to consider a wider variety of investments and to bid more aggressively than us for investments that we want to make,

 

   

some of our competitors may be more successful than us in the development and implementation of new technology to address investor demand for product and strategy innovation, particularly in the hedge fund industry,

 

   

there are relatively few barriers to entry impeding new alternative asset fund management firms, and the successful efforts of new entrants into our various businesses, including former “star” portfolio managers at large diversified financial institutions as well as such institutions themselves, is expected to continue to result in increased competition,

 

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some of our competitors may have better expertise or be regarded by investors as having better expertise in a specific asset class or geographic region than we do,

 

   

our competitors that are corporate buyers may be able to achieve synergistic cost savings in respect of an investment, which may provide them with a competitive advantage in bidding for an investment,

 

   

some investors may prefer to invest with an investment manager that is not publicly traded or is smaller with only one or two investment products that it manages, and

 

   

other industry participants will from time to time seek to recruit our investment professionals and other employees away from us.

We may lose investment opportunities in the future if we do not match investment prices, structures and terms offered by competitors. Alternatively, we may experience decreased rates of return and increased risks of loss if we match investment prices, structures and terms offered by competitors. Moreover, if we are forced to compete with other alternative asset managers on the basis of price, we may not be able to maintain our current fund fee and carried interest terms. We have historically competed primarily on the performance of our funds, and not on the level of our fees or carried interest relative to those of our competitors. However, there is a risk that fees and carried interest in the alternative investment management industry will decline, without regard to the historical performance of a manager. Fee or carried interest income reductions on existing or future funds, without corresponding decreases in our cost structure, would adversely affect our revenues and profitability.

In addition, the attractiveness of our investment funds relative to investments in other investment products could decrease depending on economic conditions. Furthermore, any deregulatory measures for the U.S. financial services industry undertaken by the U.S. Congress or the Trump administration may create additional competition, particularly with respect to our credit-focused funds. See “— Financial deregulation measures proposed by the Trump administration and members of the U.S. Congress may create regulatory uncertainty for the financial sector, increase competition in certain of our investment strategies and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.”

This competitive pressure could adversely affect our ability to make successful investments and limit our ability to raise future investment funds, either of which would adversely impact our business, revenue, results of operations and cash flow.

The due diligence process that we undertake in connection with investments by our investment funds may not reveal all facts that may be relevant in connection with an investment.

Before making investments in private equity and other investments, we conduct due diligence that we deem reasonable and appropriate based on the facts and circumstances applicable to each investment. When conducting due diligence, we may be required to evaluate important and complex business, financial, tax, accounting, environmental and legal issues. Outside consultants, legal advisers, accountants and investment banks may be involved in the due diligence process in varying degrees depending on the type of investment. Nevertheless, when conducting due diligence and making an assessment regarding an investment, we rely on the resources available to us, including information provided by the target of the investment and, in some circumstances, third party investigations. The due diligence investigation that we will carry out with respect to any investment opportunity may not reveal or highlight all relevant facts (including fraud) that may be necessary or helpful in evaluating such investment opportunity. Moreover, such an investigation will not necessarily result in the investment being successful.

In connection with the due diligence that our funds of hedge funds conduct in making and monitoring investments in third party hedge funds, we rely on information supplied by third party hedge funds or by service providers to such third party hedge funds. The information we receive from them may not be accurate or complete and therefore we may not have all the relevant facts necessary to properly assess and monitor our funds’ investment in a particular hedge fund.

 

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Our asset management activities involve investments in relatively high-risk, illiquid assets, and we may fail to realize any profits from these activities for a considerable period of time or lose some or all of our principal investments.

Many of our investment funds invest in securities that are not publicly traded. In many cases, our investment funds may be prohibited by contract or by applicable securities laws from selling such securities for a period of time. Our investment funds will generally not be able to sell these securities publicly unless their sale is registered under applicable securities laws, or unless an exemption from such registration is available. The ability of many of our investment funds, particularly our BCP funds, to dispose of investments is heavily dependent on the public equity markets. For example, the ability to realize any value from an investment may depend upon the ability to complete an initial public offering of the portfolio company in which such investment is held. Even if the securities are publicly traded, large holdings of securities can often be disposed of only over a substantial length of time, exposing the investment returns to risks of downward movement in market prices during the intended disposition period. Moreover, because the investment strategy of many of our funds, particularly our private equity funds, often entails our having representation on our funds’ public portfolio company boards, our funds may be restricted in their ability to effect such sales during certain time periods. Accordingly, under certain conditions, our investment funds may be forced to either sell securities at lower prices than they had expected to realize or defer — potentially for a considerable period of time — sales that they had planned to make. We have made and expect to continue to make significant principal investments in our current and future investment funds. Contributing capital to these investment funds is risky, and we may lose some or the entire principal amount of our investments.

We have engaged in large-sized investments, which involve certain complexities and risks that are not encountered in small- and medium-sized investments.

Our BCP and BREP funds have invested and plan to continue to invest in large transactions. The size of these investments involves certain complexities and risks that are not encountered in small- and medium-sized investments. For example, larger transactions may be more difficult to finance, and exiting larger deals may present challenges in many cases. In addition, larger transactions may entail greater scrutiny by regulators, labor unions and other third parties.

Larger transactions may be structured as “consortium transactions” due to the size of the investment and the amount of capital required to be invested. A consortium transaction involves an equity investment in which two or more private equity firms serve together or collectively as equity sponsors. We participated in a significant number of consortium transactions in prior years due to the increased size of many of the transactions in which we were involved. Consortium transactions generally entail a reduced level of control by Blackstone over the investment because governance rights must be shared with the other private equity investors. Accordingly, we may not be able to control decisions relating to the investment, including decisions relating to the management and operation of the company and the timing and nature of any exit, which could result in the risks described in “— Our investment funds make investments in companies that we do not control.”

Any of these factors could increase the risk that our larger investments could be less successful. The consequences to our investment funds of an unsuccessful larger investment could be more severe given the size of the investment.

We often pursue investment opportunities that involve business, regulatory, legal or other complexities.

As an element of our investment style, we may pursue unusually complex investment opportunities. This can often take the form of substantial business, regulatory or legal complexity that would deter other investment managers. Our tolerance for complexity presents risks, as such transactions can be more difficult, expensive and time-consuming to finance and execute; it can be more difficult to manage or realize value from the assets acquired in such transactions; and such transactions sometimes entail a higher level of regulatory scrutiny or a greater risk of contingent liabilities. Any of these risks could harm the performance of our funds.

 

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Our investment funds make investments in companies that we do not control.

Investments by most of our investment funds will include debt instruments and equity securities of companies that we do not control. Such instruments and securities may be acquired by our investment funds through trading activities or through purchases of securities from the issuer. In addition, our flagship and core private equity funds and our opportunistic and core+ real estate funds may acquire minority equity interests (particularly in consortium transactions, as described in “— We have engaged in large-sized investments, which involve certain complexities and risks that are not encountered in small- and medium-sized investments”) and may also dispose of a portion of their majority equity investments in portfolio companies over time in a manner that results in the investment funds retaining a minority investment. Those investments will be subject to the risk that the company in which the investment is made may make business, financial or management decisions with which we do not agree or that the majority stakeholders or the management of the company may take risks or otherwise act in a manner that does not serve our interests. In addition, to the extent we hold only a minority equity interest in a company, we may lack affirmative control rights, which may diminish our ability to influence the company’s affairs in a manner intended to enhance the value of our investment in the company. If any of the foregoing were to occur, the values of investments by our investment funds could decrease and our financial condition, results of operations and cash flow could suffer as a result.

We expect to make investments in companies that are based outside of the United States, which may expose us to additional risks not typically associated with investing in companies that are based in the United States.

Many of our investment funds generally invest a significant portion of their assets in the equity, debt, loans or other securities of issuers located outside the United States, and we expect that international investments will increase as a proportion of certain of our funds’ portfolios in the future. Investments in non-U.S. securities involve certain factors not typically associated with investing in U.S. securities, including risks relating to:

 

   

currency exchange matters, including fluctuations in currency exchange rates and costs associated with conversion of investment principal and income from one currency into another,

 

   

less developed or efficient financial markets than in the United States, which may lead to potential price volatility and relative illiquidity,

 

   

the absence of uniform accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards, practices and disclosure requirements and less government supervision and regulation,

 

   

changes in laws or clarifications to existing laws that could impact our tax treaty positions, which could adversely impact the returns on our investments,

 

   

a less developed legal or regulatory environment, differences in the legal and regulatory environment or enhanced legal and regulatory compliance,

 

   

heightened exposure to corruption risk in non-U.S. markets,

 

   

political hostility to investments by foreign or private equity investors,

 

   

reliance on a more limited number of commodity inputs, service providers and/or distribution mechanisms,

 

   

higher rates of inflation,

 

   

higher transaction costs,

 

   

difficulty in enforcing contractual obligations,

 

   

fewer investor protections and less publicly available information in respect of companies in non-U.S. markets,

 

   

certain economic and political risks, including potential exchange control regulations and restrictions on our non-U.S. investments and repatriation of profits on investments or of capital invested, the risks of political, economic or social instability, the possibility of expropriation or confiscatory taxation and adverse economic and political developments, and

 

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the possible imposition of non-U.S. taxes or withholding on income and gains recognized with respect to such securities.

In addition, investments in companies that are based outside of the United States are subject to the risk of the possibility of restrictions on international trade or the imposition of tariffs, both of which President Trump has raised as a possibility. See “— The potential for governmental policy changes and regulatory reform by the Trump administration and the U.S. Congress as a result of the recent U.S. Presidential and Congressional elections may create regulatory uncertainty for our funds’ portfolio companies and our investment strategies and adversely affect the profitability of our funds’ portfolio companies.”

There can be no assurance that adverse developments with respect to such risks will not adversely affect our assets that are held in certain countries or the returns from these assets.

We may not have sufficient cash to pay back “clawback” obligations if and when they are triggered under the governing agreements with our investors.

If, at the end of the life of a carry fund (or earlier with respect to certain of our real estate funds, real estate debt funds, core+ real estate funds and certain multi-asset class and/or opportunistic investment funds), as a result of diminished performance of later investments in any carry fund’s life, the carry fund has not achieved investment returns that (in most cases) exceed the preferred return threshold or (in all cases) the general partner receives in excess of the relevant carried interest percentage(s) applicable to the fund as applied to the fund’s cumulative net profits over the life of the fund, we will be obligated to repay the amount by which carried interest that was previously distributed to us exceeds the amounts to which the relevant general partner is ultimately entitled on an after tax basis. This obligation is known as a “clawback” obligation and is an obligation of any person who directly received such carried interest, including us and our employees who participate in our carried interest plans. Although a portion of any distributions by us to our unitholders may include any carried interest received by us, we do not intend to seek fulfillment of any clawback obligation by seeking to have our unitholders return any portion of such distributions attributable to carried interest associated with any clawback obligation. To the extent we are required to fulfill a clawback obligation, however, our general partner may determine to decrease the amount of our distributions to common unitholders. The clawback obligation operates with respect to a given carry fund’s own net investment performance only and performance of other funds are not netted for determining this contingent obligation.

Adverse economic conditions may increase the likelihood that one or more of our carry funds may be subject to clawback obligations upon the end of their respective lives (or earlier with respect to certain of our real estate funds, real estate debt funds and certain multi-asset class and/or opportunistic investment funds). To the extent one or more clawback obligations were to occur for any one or more carry funds, we might not have available cash at the time such clawback obligation is triggered to repay the carried interest and satisfy such obligation. If we were unable to repay such carried interest, we would be in breach of the governing agreements with our investors and could be subject to liability. Moreover, although a clawback obligation is several, the governing agreements of most of our funds provide that to the extent another recipient of carried interest (such as a current or former employee) does not fund his or her respective share, then we and our employees who participate in such carried interest plans may have to fund additional amounts (generally an additional 50-67%) beyond what we actually received in carried interest, although we retain the right to pursue any remedies that we have under such governing agreements against those carried interest recipients who fail to fund their obligations.

Investments by our investment funds will in most cases rank junior to investments made by others.

In most cases, the companies in which our investment funds invest will have indebtedness or equity securities, or may be permitted to incur indebtedness or to issue equity securities, that rank senior to our investment. By their terms, such instruments may provide that their holders are entitled to receive payments of dividends, interest or principal on or before the dates on which payments are to be made in respect of our investment. Also, in the event of

 

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insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or bankruptcy of a company in which an investment is made, holders of securities ranking senior to our investment would typically be entitled to receive payment in full before distributions could be made in respect of our investment. After repaying senior security holders, the company may not have any remaining assets to use for repaying amounts owed in respect of our investment. To the extent that any assets remain, holders of claims that rank equally with our investment would be entitled to share on an equal and ratable basis in distributions that are made out of those assets. Also, during periods of financial distress or following an insolvency, the ability of our investment funds to influence a company’s affairs and to take actions to protect their investments may be substantially less than that of the senior creditors.

Investors in our hedge funds may redeem their investments in these funds. In addition, the investment management agreements related to our separately managed accounts may permit the investor to terminate our management of such account on short notice. Lastly, investors in our other investment funds have the right to cause these investment funds to be dissolved. Any of these events would lead to a decrease in our revenues, which could be substantial.

Investors in our hedge funds may generally redeem their investments on an annual, semi-annual or quarterly basis following the expiration of a specified period of time when capital may not be withdrawn, subject to the applicable fund’s specific redemption provisions. In addition, we have certain other open-ended funds, including core+ real estate and certain real estate debt funds, which contain similar redemption provisions in their governing documents. In a declining market, many hedge funds and other open-ended funds, including some of our funds, may experience declines in value, and the pace of redemptions and consequent reduction in our assets under management could accelerate. Such declines in value may be both provoked and exacerbated by margin calls and forced selling of assets. To the extent appropriate and permissible under a fund’s constituent documents, we may limit or suspend redemptions during a redemption period, which may have a reputational impact on us. See “— Hedge fund investments are subject to numerous additional risks.” The decrease in revenues that would result from significant redemptions in our hedge funds and other open-ended funds could have a material adverse effect on our business, revenues, net income and cash flows.

We currently manage a significant portion of investor assets through separately managed accounts whereby we earn management and incentive fees, and we intend to continue to seek additional separately managed account mandates. The investment management agreements we enter into in connection with managing separately managed accounts on behalf of certain clients may be terminated by such clients on as little as 30 days’ prior written notice. In addition, the boards of directors of the investment management companies we manage, or the adviser in respect of the registered BDCs we sub-advise, could terminate our advisory engagement of those companies, on as little as 30 days’ prior written notice. In the case of any such terminations, the management and incentive fees we earn in connection with managing such account or company would immediately cease, which could result in a significant adverse impact on our revenues.

The governing agreements of all of our investment funds (with the exception of certain of our funds of hedge funds) provide that, subject to certain conditions, third party investors in those funds will have the right to remove the general partner of the fund or to accelerate the liquidation date of the investment fund without cause by a simple majority vote, resulting in a reduction in management fees we would earn from such investment funds and a significant reduction in the amounts of total carried interest and incentive fees from those funds. Carried interest and incentive fees could be significantly reduced as a result of our inability to maximize the value of investments by an investment fund during the liquidation process or in the event of the triggering of a “clawback” obligation. Finally, the applicable funds would cease to exist. In addition, the governing agreements of our investment funds provide that in the event certain “key persons” in our investment funds do not meet specified time commitments with regard to managing the fund, then investors in certain funds have the right to vote to terminate the investment period by a specified percentage (including, in certain cases, a simple majority) vote in accordance with specified procedures, accelerate the withdrawal of their capital on an investor-by-investor basis, or the fund’s investment period will automatically terminate and the vote of a simple majority of investors is required to restart it. In addition, the governing agreements of some of our investment funds provide that investors have the right to terminate, for any

 

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reason, the investment period by a vote of 75% of the investors in such fund. In addition to having a significant negative impact on our revenue, net income and cash flow, the occurrence of such an event with respect to any of our investment funds would likely result in significant reputational damage to us.

In addition, because all of our investment funds have advisers that are registered under the Advisers Act, the management agreements of all of our investment funds would be terminated upon an “assignment,” without investor consent, of these agreements, which may be deemed to occur in the event these advisers were to experience a change of control. We cannot be certain that consents required for assignments of our investment management agreements will be obtained if a change of control occurs. In addition, with respect to our 1940 Act registered funds, each investment fund’s investment management agreement must be approved annually by the independent members of such investment fund’s board of directors and, in certain cases, by its stockholders, as required by law. Termination of these agreements would cause us to lose the fees we earn from such investment funds.

Third party investors in our investment funds with commitment-based structures may not satisfy their contractual obligation to fund capital calls when requested by us, which could adversely affect a fund’s operations and performance.

Investors in all of our carry funds (and certain of our hedge funds) make capital commitments to those funds that we are entitled to call from those investors at any time during prescribed periods. We depend on investors fulfilling their commitments when we call capital from them in order for those funds to consummate investments and otherwise pay their obligations (for example, management fees) when due. A default by an investor may also limit a fund’s availability to incur borrowings and avail itself of what would otherwise have been available credit. We have not had investors fail to honor capital calls to any meaningful extent. Any investor that did not fund a capital call would generally be subject to several possible penalties, including having a significant amount of its existing investment forfeited in that fund. However, the impact of the penalty is directly correlated to the amount of capital previously invested by the investor in the fund and if an investor has invested little or no capital, for instance early in the life of the fund, then the forfeiture penalty may not be as meaningful. Investors may also negotiate for lesser or reduced penalties at the outset of the fund, thereby inhibiting our ability to enforce the funding of a capital call. Third party investors in private equity, real estate and venture capital funds typically use distributions from prior investments to meet future capital calls. In cases where valuations of investors’ existing investments fall and the pace of distributions slows, investors may be unable to make new commitments to third party managed investment funds such as those advised by us. If investors were to fail to satisfy a significant amount of capital calls for any particular fund or funds, the operation and performance of those funds could be materially and adversely affected.

Certain policies and procedures implemented to mitigate potential conflicts of interest and address certain regulatory requirements may reduce the synergies across our various businesses.

Because of our various lines of asset management businesses and our capital markets services business, we will be subject to a number of actual and potential conflicts of interest and subject to greater regulatory oversight than that to which we would otherwise be subject if we had just one line of business. In addressing these conflicts and regulatory requirements across our various businesses, we have implemented certain policies and procedures (for example, information walls) that may reduce the positive synergies that we cultivate across these businesses. For example, we may come into possession of material non-public information with respect to issuers in which we may be considering making an investment. As a consequence, we may be precluded from providing such information or other ideas to our other businesses that might be of benefit to them.

Our failure to deal appropriately with conflicts of interest in our investment business could damage our reputation and adversely affect our businesses.

As we have expanded and as we continue to expand the number and scope of our businesses, we increasingly confront potential conflicts of interest relating to our funds’ investment activities. A decision to acquire material

 

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non-public information about a company while pursuing an investment opportunity for a particular fund gives rise to a potential conflict of interest when it results in our having to restrict the ability of other funds to take any action. Certain of our funds may have overlapping investment objectives, including funds that have different fee structures, and potential conflicts may arise with respect to our decisions regarding how to allocate investment opportunities among those funds to the extent the fund documents do not mandate a specific investment allocation. For example, we may allocate an investment opportunity that is appropriate for two or more investment funds in a manner that excludes one or more funds or results in a disproportionate allocation based on factors or criteria that we determine, such as sourcing of the transaction, the relative amounts of capital available for investment in each fund, the nature and extent of involvement in the transaction on the part of the respective teams of investment professionals dedicated to the respective funds and other considerations deemed relevant by us. In addition, the challenge of allocating investment opportunities to certain funds may be exacerbated as we expand our business to include more public vehicles. We may also cause different private equity funds to invest in a single portfolio company, for example where the fund that made an initial investment no longer has capital available to invest. We may also cause different funds that we manage to purchase different classes of securities in the same portfolio company. For example, one of our CLO funds could acquire a debt security issued by the same company in which one of our private equity funds owns common equity securities. A direct conflict of interest could arise between the debt holders and the equity holders if such a company were to develop insolvency concerns, and that conflict would have to be carefully managed by us. In addition, conflicts of interest may exist in the valuation of our investments and regarding decisions about the allocation of specific investment opportunities among us and our funds and the allocation of fees and costs among us, our funds and their portfolio companies. Lastly, in certain, infrequent instances we may purchase an investment alongside one of our investment funds or sell an investment to one of our investment funds and conflicts may arise in respect of the allocation, pricing and timing of such investments and the ultimate disposition of such investments. To the extent we failed to appropriately deal with any such conflicts, it could negatively impact our reputation and ability to raise additional funds or result in potential litigation or regulatory action against us.

Risk management activities may adversely affect the return on our funds’ investments.

When managing our exposure to market risks, we may (on our own behalf or on behalf of our funds) from time to time use forward contracts, options, swaps, caps, collars and floors or pursue other strategies or use other forms of derivative instruments to limit our exposure to changes in the relative values of investments that may result from market developments, including changes in prevailing interest rates, currency exchange rates and commodity prices. The success of any hedging or other derivative transactions generally will depend on our ability to correctly predict market changes, the degree of correlation between price movements of a derivative instrument, the position being hedged, the creditworthiness of the counterparty and other factors. As a result, while we may enter into a transaction in order to reduce our exposure to market risks, the transaction may result in poorer overall investment performance than if it had not been executed. Such transactions may also limit the opportunity for gain if the value of a hedged position increases.

While such hedging arrangements may reduce certain risks, such arrangements themselves may entail certain other risks. These arrangements may require the posting of cash collateral at a time when a fund has insufficient cash or illiquid assets such that the posting of the cash is either impossible or requires the sale of assets at prices that do not reflect their underlying value. Moreover, these hedging arrangements may generate significant transaction costs, including potential tax costs, that reduce the returns generated by a fund. Finally, the CFTC may in the future require certain foreign exchange products to be subject to mandatory clearing, which could increase the cost of entering into currency hedges.

Our real estate funds are subject to the risks inherent in the ownership and operation of real estate and the construction and development of real estate.

Investments in our real estate funds will be subject to the risks inherent in the ownership and operation of real estate and real estate related businesses and assets, including the deterioration of real estate fundamentals. These

 

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risks include but are not limited to, those associated with the burdens of ownership of real property, general and local economic conditions, changes in supply of and demand for competing properties in an area (as a result, for instance, of overbuilding), fluctuations in the average occupancy and room rates for hotel properties, operating income, the financial resources of tenants, changes in building, environmental, zoning and other laws, casualty or condemnation losses, energy and supply shortages, various uninsured or uninsurable risks, natural disasters, changes in government regulations (such as rent control), changes in real property tax rates, changes in interest rates, the reduced availability of mortgage funds which may render the sale or refinancing of properties difficult or impracticable, increased mortgage defaults, increases in borrowing rates, negative developments in the economy that depress travel activity, environmental liabilities, contingent liabilities on disposition of assets, acts of god, terrorist attacks, war and other factors that are beyond our control. According to publicly released statements, a top legislative priority of the Trump administration and the new U.S. Congress is significant tax reform, including significant changes to the taxation of business entities and the deductibility of corporate interest expense. Certain aspects of any such reform could potentially negatively impact investments in real estate. In addition, if our real estate funds acquire direct or indirect interests in undeveloped land or underdeveloped real property, which may often be non-income producing, they will be subject to the risks normally associated with such assets and development activities, including risks relating to the availability and timely receipt of zoning and other regulatory or environmental approvals, the cost and timely completion of construction (including risks beyond the control of our fund, such as weather or labor conditions or material shortages) and the availability of both construction and permanent financing on favorable terms. In addition, our real estate funds may also make investments in residential real estate projects and/or otherwise participate in financing opportunities relating to residential real estate assets or portfolios thereof from time to time, which may be more highly susceptible to adverse changes in prevailing economic and/or market conditions and present additional risks relative to the ownership and operation of commercial real estate assets.

Certain of our investment funds may invest in securities of companies that are experiencing significant financial or business difficulties, including companies involved in bankruptcy or other reorganization and liquidation proceedings. Such investments are subject to a greater risk of poor performance or loss.

Certain of our investment funds, especially our credit-focused funds, may invest in business enterprises involved in work-outs, liquidations, spin-offs, reorganizations, bankruptcies and similar transactions and may purchase high-risk receivables. An investment in such business enterprises entails the risk that the transaction in which such business enterprise is involved either will be unsuccessful, will take considerable time or will result in a distribution of cash or a new security the value of which will be less than the purchase price to the fund of the security or other financial instrument in respect of which such distribution is received. In addition, if an anticipated transaction does not in fact occur, the fund may be required to sell its investment at a loss. Investments in troubled companies may also be adversely affected by U.S. federal and state laws relating to, among other things, fraudulent conveyances, voidable preferences, lender liability and a bankruptcy court’s discretionary power to disallow, subordinate or disenfranchise particular claims. Investments in securities and private claims of troubled companies made in connection with an attempt to influence a restructuring proposal or plan of reorganization in a bankruptcy case may also involve substantial litigation. Because there is substantial uncertainty concerning the outcome of transactions involving financially troubled companies, there is a potential risk of loss by a fund of its entire investment in such company. Moreover, a major economic recession could have a materially adverse impact on the value of such securities. Adverse publicity and investor perceptions, whether or not based on fundamental analysis, may also decrease the value and liquidity of securities rated below investment grade or otherwise adversely affect our reputation.

In addition, at least one federal Circuit Court has determined that an investment fund could be liable for ERISA Title IV pension obligations (including withdrawal liability incurred with respect to union multiemployer plans) of its portfolio companies, if such fund is a “trade or business” and the fund’s ownership interest in the portfolio company is significant enough to bring the portfolio company within its “controlled group.” While a number of cases have held that managing investments is not a “trade or business” for tax purposes, the Circuit Court in this case concluded the an investment fund could be a “trade or business” for ERISA purposes based on certain factors,

 

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including the fund’s level of involvement in the management of its portfolio companies and the nature of its management fee arrangements. Ongoing litigation related to the Circuit Court’s decision suggests that additional factors may be relevant for purposes of determining whether an investment fund could face “controlled group” liability under ERISA, including the structure of the investment and the nature of the fund’s relationship with other affiliated investors and co-investors in the portfolio company. Moreover, regardless of whether or not an investment fund is determined to be a “trade or business” for purposes of ERISA, a court might hold that one of the fund’s portfolio companies could become jointly and severally liable for another portfolio company’s unfunded pension liabilities pursuant to the ERISA “controlled group” rules, depending upon the relevant investment structures and ownership interests as noted above.

Certain of our fund investments may be concentrated in certain asset types or in a geographic region, which could exacerbate any negative performance of those funds to the extent those concentrated investments perform poorly.

The governing agreements of our investment funds contain only limited investment restrictions and only limited requirements as to diversification of fund investments, either by geographic region or asset type. For example, approximately 66% of the investments of our real estate funds (based on fair values as of December 31, 2016) are in office building, hotel and shopping center assets. During periods of difficult market conditions or slowdowns in these sectors, the decreased revenues, difficulty in obtaining access to financing and increased funding costs experienced by our real estate funds may be exacerbated by this concentration of investments, which would result in lower investment returns for our real estate funds.

Investments by our funds in the power and energy industries involve various operational, construction, regulatory and market risks that could adversely affect our results of operations, liquidity and financial condition.

The development, operation and maintenance of power and energy generation facilities involves many risks, including, as applicable, labor issues, start-up risks, breakdown or failure of facilities, lack of sufficient capital to maintain the facilities and the dependence on a specific fuel source. Power and energy generation facilities in which our funds invest are also subject to risks associated with volatility in the price of fuel sources and the impact of unusual or adverse weather conditions or other natural events, as well as the risk of performance below expected levels of output, efficiency or reliability. The occurrence of any such items could result in lost revenues and/or increased expenses. In turn, such developments could impair a portfolio company’s ability to repay its debt or conduct its operations. We may also choose or be required to decommission a power generation facility or other asset. The decommissioning process could be protracted and result in the incurrence of significant financial and/or regulatory obligations or other uncertainties.

Our power and energy sector portfolio companies may also face construction risks typical for power generation and related infrastructure businesses. Such developments could result in substantial unanticipated delays or expenses and, under certain circumstances, could prevent completion of construction activities once undertaken. Delays in the completion of any power project may result in lost revenues or increased expenses, including higher operation and maintenance costs related to such portfolio company.

The power and energy sectors are the subject of substantial and complex laws, rules and regulation by various federal and state regulatory agencies. Failure to comply with applicable laws, rules and regulations could result in the prevention of operation of certain facilities or the prevention of the sale of such a facility to a third party, as well as the loss of certain rate authority, refund liability, penalties and other remedies, all of which could result in additional costs to a portfolio company and adversely affect the investment results. In addition, any legislative efforts by the Trump administration or the new U.S. Congress to overturn or modify policies or regulations enacted by the prior administration that placed limitations on coal and gas electric generation, mining and/or exploration could adversely affect certain of our energy investments, including our alternative energy investments. Conversely, any governmental policy changes encouraging resource extraction could have the effect of supporting low energy prices, which could have a negative impact on certain of our energy investments.

 

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Our businesses that invest in the energy industry also focus on investments in businesses involved in oil and gas exploration and development, which can be a speculative business involving a high degree of risk, including:

 

   

the use of new technologies, including hydraulic fracturing,

 

   

reliance on estimates of oil and gas reserves in the evaluation of available geological, geophysical, engineering and economic data for each reservoir, and

 

   

encountering unexpected formations or pressures, premature declines of reservoirs, blow-outs, equipment failures and other accidents in completing wells and otherwise, cratering, sour gas releases, uncontrollable flows of oil, natural gas or well fluids, adverse weather conditions, pollution, fires, spills and other environmental risks.

In addition, the performance of the investments made by our credit and equity funds in the energy and natural resources markets are also subject to a high degree of market risk, as such investments are likely to be, directly or indirectly substantially dependent upon prevailing prices of oil, natural gas and other commodities. Oil and natural gas prices are subject to wide fluctuation in response to factors beyond the control of us or our funds’ portfolio companies, including relatively minor changes in the supply and demand for oil and natural gas, market uncertainty, the level of consumer product demand, weather conditions, governmental regulation, the price and availability of alternative fuels, political and economic conditions in oil producing countries, foreign supply of such commodities and overall domestic and foreign economic conditions. These factors make it difficult to predict future commodity price movements with any certainty.

The financial projections of our funds’ portfolio companies could prove inaccurate.

Our funds generally establish the capital structure of portfolio companies on the basis of financial projections prepared by the management of such portfolio companies. These projected operating results will normally be based primarily on judgments of the management of the portfolio companies. In all cases, projections are only estimates of future results that are based upon assumptions made at the time that the projections are developed. General economic conditions, which are not predictable, along with other factors may cause actual performance to fall short of the financial projections that were used to establish a given portfolio company’s capital structure. Because of the leverage we typically employ in our investments, this could cause a substantial decrease in the value of our equity holdings in the portfolio company. The inaccuracy of financial projections could thus cause our funds’ performance to fall short of our expectations.

Contingent liabilities could harm fund performance.

We may cause our funds to acquire an investment that is subject to contingent liabilities. Such contingent liabilities could be unknown to us at the time of acquisition or, if they are known to us, we may not accurately assess or protect against the risks that they present. Acquired contingent liabilities could thus result in unforeseen losses for our funds. In addition, in connection with the disposition of an investment in a portfolio company, a fund may be required to make representations about the business and financial affairs of such portfolio company typical of those made in connection with the sale of a business. A fund may also be required to indemnify the purchasers of such investment to the extent that any such representations are inaccurate. These arrangements may result in the incurrence of contingent liabilities by a fund, even after the disposition of an investment. Accordingly, the inaccuracy of representations and warranties made by a fund could harm such fund’s performance.

Our funds may be forced to dispose of investments at a disadvantageous time.

Our funds may make investments that they do not advantageously dispose of prior to the date the applicable fund is dissolved, either by expiration of such fund’s term or otherwise. Although we generally expect that investments will be disposed of prior to dissolution or be suitable for in-kind distribution at dissolution, and the general partners of the funds have only a limited ability to extend the term of the fund with the consent of fund

 

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investors or the advisory board of the fund, as applicable, our funds may have to sell, distribute or otherwise dispose of investments at a disadvantageous time as a result of dissolution. This would result in a lower than expected return on the investments and, perhaps, on the fund itself.

Hedge fund investments are subject to numerous additional risks.

Investments by our funds of hedge funds in other hedge funds, as well as investments by our credit-focused and real estate debt hedge funds, are subject to numerous additional risks, including the following:

 

   

Certain of the funds are newly established funds without any operating history or are managed by management companies or general partners who may not have as significant track records as an independent manager.

 

   

Generally, there are few limitations on the execution of the hedge funds’ investment strategies, which are subject to the sole discretion of the management company or the general partner of such funds.

 

   

Hedge funds may engage in short selling, which is subject to the theoretically unlimited risk of loss because there is no limit on how much the price of a security may appreciate before the short position is closed out. A fund may be subject to losses if a security lender demands return of the lent securities and an alternative lending source cannot be found or if the fund is otherwise unable to borrow securities that are necessary to hedge its positions.

 

   

Hedge funds are exposed to the risk that a counterparty will not settle a transaction in accordance with its terms and conditions because of a dispute over the terms of the contract (whether or not bona fide) or because of a credit or liquidity problem, thus causing the fund to suffer a loss. Counterparty risk is accentuated for contracts with longer maturities where events may intervene to prevent settlement, or where the fund has concentrated its transactions with a single or small group of counterparties. Generally, hedge funds are not restricted from dealing with any particular counterparty or from concentrating any or all of their transactions with one counterparty. Moreover, the funds’ internal consideration of the creditworthiness of their counterparties may prove insufficient. The absence of a regulated market to facilitate settlement may increase the potential for losses.

 

   

Credit risk may arise through a default by one of several large institutions that are dependent on one another to meet their liquidity or operational needs, so that a default by one institution causes a series of defaults by the other institutions. This “systemic risk” may adversely affect the financial intermediaries (such as clearing agencies, clearing houses, banks, securities firms and exchanges) with which the hedge funds interact on a daily basis.

 

   

The efficacy of investment and trading strategies depend largely on the ability to establish and maintain an overall market position in a combination of financial instruments. A hedge fund’s trading orders may not be executed in a timely and efficient manner due to various circumstances, including systems failures or human error. In such event, the funds might only be able to acquire some but not all of the components of the position, or if the overall position were to need adjustment, the funds might not be able to make such adjustment. As a result, the funds would not be able to achieve the market position selected by the management company or general partner of such funds, and might incur a loss in liquidating their position.

 

   

Hedge funds are subject to risks due to potential illiquidity of assets. Hedge funds may make investments or hold trading positions in markets that are volatile and which may become illiquid. Timely divestiture or sale of trading positions can be impaired by decreased trading volume, increased price volatility, concentrated trading positions, limitations on the ability to transfer positions in highly specialized or structured transactions to which they may be a party, and changes in industry and government regulations. It may be impossible or costly for hedge funds to liquidate positions rapidly in order to meet margin calls, withdrawal requests or otherwise, particularly if there are other market participants seeking to dispose of similar assets at the same time or the relevant market is otherwise moving against a position or in the

 

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event of trading halts or daily price movement limits on the market or otherwise. Moreover, these risks may be exacerbated for our funds of hedge funds. For example, if one of our funds of hedge funds were to invest a significant portion of its assets in two or more hedge funds that each had illiquid positions in the same issuer, the illiquidity risk for our funds of hedge funds would be compounded. For example, in 2008 many hedge funds, including some of our hedge funds, experienced significant declines in value. In many cases, these declines in value were both provoked and exacerbated by margin calls and forced selling of assets. Moreover, certain of our funds of hedge funds were invested in third party hedge funds that halted redemptions in the face of illiquidity and other issues, which precluded those funds of hedge funds from receiving their capital back on request.

 

   

Hedge fund investments are subject to risks relating to investments in commodities, futures, options and other derivatives, the prices of which are highly volatile and may be subject to the theoretically unlimited risk of loss in certain circumstances, including if the fund writes a call option. Price movements of commodities, futures and options contracts and payments pursuant to swap agreements are influenced by, among other things, interest rates, changing supply and demand relationships, trade, fiscal, monetary and exchange control programs and policies of governments and national and international political and economic events and policies. The value of futures, options and swap agreements also depends upon the price of the commodities underlying them. In addition, hedge funds’ assets are subject to the risk of the failure of any of the exchanges on which their positions trade or of their clearinghouses or counterparties. Most U.S. commodities exchanges limit fluctuations in certain commodity interest prices during a single day by imposing “daily price fluctuation limits” or “daily limits,” the existence of which may reduce liquidity or effectively curtail trading in particular markets.

We are subject to risks in using prime brokers, custodians, counterparties, administrators and other agents.

Many of our funds depend on the services of prime brokers, custodians, counterparties, administrators and other agents to carry out certain securities and derivatives transactions. The terms of these contracts are often customized and complex, and many of these arrangements occur in markets or relate to products that are not subject to regulatory oversight, although the Dodd-Frank Act provides for new regulation of the derivatives market. In particular, some of our funds utilize prime brokerage arrangements with a relatively limited number of counterparties, which has the effect of concentrating the transaction volume (and related counterparty default risk) of these funds with these counterparties.

Our funds are subject to the risk that the counterparty to one or more of these contracts defaults, either voluntarily or involuntarily, on its performance under the contract. Any such default may occur suddenly and without notice to us. Moreover, if a counterparty defaults, we may be unable to take action to cover our exposure, either because we lack contractual recourse or because market conditions make it difficult to take effective action. This inability could occur in times of market stress, which is when defaults are most likely to occur.

In addition, our risk management process may not accurately anticipate the impact of market stress or counterparty financial condition, and as a result, we may not have taken sufficient action to reduce our risks effectively. Default risk may arise from events or circumstances that are difficult to detect, foresee or evaluate. In addition, concerns about, or a default by, one large participant could lead to significant liquidity problems for other participants, which may in turn expose us to significant losses.

Although we have risk management processes to ensure that we are not exposed to a single counterparty for significant periods of time, given the large number and size of our funds, we often have large positions with a single counterparty. For example, most of our funds have credit lines. If the lender under one or more of those credit lines were to become insolvent, we may have difficulty replacing the credit line and one or more of our funds may face liquidity problems.

In the event of a counterparty default, particularly a default by a major investment bank or a default by a counterparty to a significant number of our contracts, one or more of our funds may have outstanding trades that

 

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they cannot settle or are delayed in settling. As a result, these funds could incur material losses and the resulting market impact of a major counterparty default could harm our businesses, results of operation and financial condition.

In the event of the insolvency of a prime broker, custodian, counterparty or any other party that is holding assets of our funds as collateral, our funds might not be able to recover equivalent assets in full as they will rank among the prime broker’s, custodian’s or counterparty’s unsecured creditors in relation to the assets held as collateral. In addition, our funds’ cash held with a prime broker, custodian or counterparty generally will not be segregated from the prime broker’s, custodian’s or counterparty’s own cash, and our funds may therefore rank as unsecured creditors in relation thereto. If our derivatives transactions are cleared through a derivatives clearing organization, the CFTC has issued final rules regulating the segregation and protection of collateral posted by customers of cleared and uncleared swaps. The CFTC is also working to provide new guidance regarding prime broker arrangements and intermediation generally with regard to trading on swap execution facilities.

The counterparty risks that we face have increased in complexity and magnitude as a result of disruption in the financial markets in recent years. For example, the consolidation and elimination of counterparties has increased our concentration of counterparty risk and decreased the universe of potential counterparties, and our funds are generally not restricted from dealing with any particular counterparty or from concentrating any or all of their transactions with one counterparty. In addition, counterparties have in the past and may in the future react to market volatility by tightening underwriting standards and increasing margin requirements for all categories of financing, which may decrease the overall amount of leverage available and increase the costs of borrowing.

Underwriting activities by our capital markets services business expose us to risks.

We act as an underwriter in securities offerings through our capital markets services business. We may incur losses and be subject to reputational harm to the extent that, for any reason, we are unable to sell securities we purchased as an underwriter at the anticipated price levels. As an underwriter, we also are subject to liability for material misstatements or omissions in prospectuses and other offering documents relating to offerings we underwrite.

Risks Related to Our Organizational Structure

Our common unitholders do not elect our general partner or vote on our general partner’s directors and have limited ability to influence decisions regarding our business.

Our general partner, Blackstone Group Management L.L.C., which is owned by our senior managing directors, manages all of our operations and activities. Blackstone Group Management L.L.C. has a board of directors that is responsible for the oversight of our business and operations. Our general partner’s board of directors is elected in accordance with its limited liability company agreement, where our senior managing directors have agreed that our founder, Stephen A. Schwarzman, will have the power to appoint and remove the directors of our general partner. The limited liability company agreement of our general partner provides that at such time as Mr. Schwarzman should cease to be a founder, Hamilton E. James will thereupon succeed Mr. Schwarzman as the sole founding member of our general partner, and thereafter such power will revert to the members of our general partner (our senior managing directors) holding a majority in interest in our general partner.

Our common unitholders do not elect our general partner or its board of directors and, unlike the holders of common stock in a corporation, have only limited voting rights on matters affecting our business and therefore limited ability to influence decisions regarding our business. Furthermore, if our common unitholders are dissatisfied with the performance of our general partner, they have little ability to remove our general partner. Our general partner may not be removed unless that removal is approved by the vote of the holders of not less than two-thirds of the voting power of our outstanding common units and special voting units (including common units and special voting units held by the general partner and its affiliates) and we receive an opinion of counsel regarding

 

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limited liability matters. As of December 31, 2016, Blackstone Partners L.L.C., an entity wholly owned by our personnel and others who are limited partners, had 48.2% of the voting power of The Blackstone Group L.P. limited partners. Therefore, our senior managing directors have the ability to block any removal of our general partner and, given their control of our general partner, control The Blackstone Group L.P.

Blackstone personnel collectively own a controlling interest in us and will be able to determine the outcome of those few matters that may be submitted for a vote of the limited partners.

Our senior managing directors generally have sufficient voting power to determine the outcome of those few matters that may be submitted for a vote of the limited partners of The Blackstone Group L.P., including any attempt to remove our general partner, which our senior managing directors have the ability to block.

Our common unitholders’ voting rights are further restricted by the provision in our partnership agreement stating that any common units held by a person that beneficially owns 20% or more of any class of The Blackstone Group L.P. common units then outstanding (other than our general partner and its affiliates, or a direct or subsequently approved transferee of our general partner or its affiliates) cannot be voted on any matter. In addition, our partnership agreement contains provisions limiting the ability of our common unitholders to call meetings or to acquire information about our operations, as well as other provisions limiting the ability of our common unitholders to influence the manner or direction of our management. Our partnership agreement also does not restrict our general partner’s ability to take actions that may result in our being treated as an entity taxable as a corporation for U.S. federal (and applicable state) income tax purposes without the approval of our common unitholders. Furthermore, the common unitholders are not entitled to dissenters’ rights of appraisal under our partnership agreement or applicable Delaware law in the event of a merger or consolidation, a sale of substantially all of our assets or any other transaction or event. In addition, we have the right to acquire all of our then outstanding common units if not more than 10% of our common units are held by persons other than our general partner and its affiliates.

As a result of these matters and the provisions referred to under “— Our common unitholders do not elect our general partner or vote on our general partner’s directors and have limited ability to influence decisions regarding our business,” our common unitholders may be deprived of an opportunity to receive a premium for their common units in the future through a sale of The Blackstone Group L.P., and the trading prices of our common units may be adversely affected by the absence or reduction of a takeover premium in the trading price.

We are a limited partnership and as a result fall within exceptions from certain corporate governance and other requirements under the rules of the New York Stock Exchange.

We are a limited partnership and fall within exceptions from certain corporate governance and other requirements of the rules of the New York Stock Exchange. Pursuant to these exceptions, limited partnerships may elect not to comply with certain corporate governance requirements of the New York Stock Exchange, including the requirements (a) that a majority of the board of directors of our general partner consist of independent directors, (b) that we have a nominating/corporate governance committee that is composed entirely of independent directors (c) that we have a compensation committee that is composed entirely of independent directors, and (d) that the compensation committee be required to consider certain independence factors when engaging compensation consultants, legal counsel and other committee advisers. In addition, we are not required to hold annual meetings of our common unitholders. We will continue to avail ourselves of these exceptions. Accordingly, common unitholders generally do not have the same protections afforded to equityholders of entities that are subject to all of the corporate governance requirements of the New York Stock Exchange.

Potential conflicts of interest may arise among our general partner, its affiliates and us. Our general partner and its affiliates have limited fiduciary duties to us and our common unitholders, which may permit them to favor their own interests to the detriment of us and our common unitholders.

Conflicts of interest may arise among our general partner and its affiliates, on the one hand, and us and our common unitholders, on the other hand. As a result of these conflicts, our general partner may favor its own

 

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interests and the interests of its affiliates over the interests of our common unitholders. These conflicts include, among others, the following:

 

   

our general partner determines the amount and timing of our investments and dispositions, indebtedness, issuances of additional partnership interests and amounts of reserves, each of which can affect the amount of cash that is available for distribution to our common unitholders,

 

   

our general partner is allowed to take into account the interests of parties other than us in resolving conflicts of interest, which has the effect of limiting its duties (including fiduciary duties) to our common unitholders. For example, our subsidiaries that serve as the general partners of our investment funds have fiduciary and contractual obligations to the investors in those funds, as a result of which we expect to regularly take actions that might adversely affect our near-term results of operations or cash flow,

 

   

because our senior managing directors hold their Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units directly or through entities that are not subject to corporate income taxation and The Blackstone Group L.P. holds Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units through wholly owned subsidiaries, some of which are subject to corporate income taxation, conflicts may arise between our senior managing directors and The Blackstone Group L.P. relating to the selection and structuring of investments,

 

   

other than as set forth in the non-competition and non-solicitation agreements to which our senior managing directors are subject, which may not be enforceable, affiliates of our general partner and existing and former personnel employed by our general partner are not prohibited from engaging in other businesses or activities, including those that might be in direct competition with us,

 

   

our general partner has limited its liability and reduced or eliminated its duties (including fiduciary duties) under the partnership agreement, while also restricting the remedies available to our common unitholders for actions that, without these limitations, might constitute breaches of duty (including fiduciary duty). In addition, we have agreed to indemnify our general partner and its affiliates to the fullest extent permitted by law, except with respect to conduct involving bad faith, fraud or willful misconduct. By purchasing our common units, common unitholders will have agreed and consented to the provisions set forth in our partnership agreement, including the provisions regarding conflicts of interest situations that, in the absence of such provisions, might constitute a breach of fiduciary or other duties under applicable state law,

 

   

our partnership agreement does not restrict our general partner from causing us to pay it or its affiliates for any services rendered, or from entering into additional contractual arrangements with any of these entities on our behalf, so long as the terms of any such additional contractual arrangements are fair and reasonable to us as determined under the partnership agreement,

 

   

our general partner determines how much debt we incur and that decision may adversely affect our credit ratings,

 

   

our general partner determines which costs incurred by it and its affiliates are reimbursable by us,

 

   

our general partner controls the enforcement of obligations owed to us by it and its affiliates, and

 

   

our general partner decides whether to retain separate counsel, accountants or others to perform services for us.

See “Part III. Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence” and “Part III. Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance — Partnership Management and Governance — Conflicts Committee.”

 

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Our partnership agreement contains provisions that reduce or eliminate duties (including fiduciary duties) of our general partner and limit remedies available to common unitholders for actions that might otherwise constitute a breach of duty. It will be difficult for a common unitholder to successfully challenge a resolution of a conflict of interest by our general partner or by its conflicts committee.

Our partnership agreement contains provisions that waive or consent to conduct by our general partner and its affiliates that might otherwise raise issues about compliance with fiduciary duties or applicable law. For example, our partnership agreement provides that when our general partner is acting in its individual capacity, as opposed to in its capacity as our general partner, it may act without any fiduciary obligations to us or our common unitholders whatsoever. When our general partner, in its capacity as our general partner, is permitted to or required to make a decision in its “sole discretion” or “discretion” or that it deems “necessary or appropriate” or “necessary or advisable,” then our general partner is entitled to consider only such interests and factors as it desires, including its own interests, and has no duty or obligation (fiduciary or otherwise) to give any consideration to any interest of or factors affecting us or any limited partners and will not be subject to any different standards imposed by the partnership agreement, the Delaware Limited Partnership Act or under any other law, rule or regulation or in equity. These modifications of fiduciary duties are expressly permitted by Delaware law. Hence, we and our common unitholders only have recourse and are able to seek remedies against our general partner if our general partner breaches its obligations pursuant to our partnership agreement. Unless our general partner breaches its obligations pursuant to our partnership agreement, we and our common unitholders do not have any recourse against our general partner even if our general partner were to act in a manner that was inconsistent with traditional fiduciary duties. Furthermore, even if there has been a breach of the obligations set forth in our partnership agreement, our partnership agreement provides that our general partner and its officers and directors are not liable to us or our common unitholders for errors of judgment or for any acts or omissions unless there has been a final and non-appealable judgment by a court of competent jurisdiction determining that the general partner or its officers and directors acted in bad faith or engaged in fraud or willful misconduct. These modifications are detrimental to the common unitholders because they restrict the remedies available to common unitholders for actions that without those limitations might constitute breaches of duty (including fiduciary duty).

Whenever a potential conflict of interest exists between us and our general partner, our general partner may resolve such conflict of interest. If our general partner determines that its resolution of the conflict of interest is on terms no less favorable to us than those generally being provided to or available from unrelated third parties or is fair and reasonable to us, taking into account the totality of the relationships between us and our general partner, then it will be presumed that in making this determination, our general partner acted in good faith. A common unitholder seeking to challenge this resolution of the conflict of interest would bear the burden of overcoming such presumption. This is different from the situation with Delaware corporations, where a conflict resolution by an interested party would be presumed to be unfair and the interested party would have the burden of demonstrating that the resolution was fair.

Also, if our general partner obtains the approval of the conflicts committee of our general partner, the resolution will be conclusively deemed to be fair and reasonable to us and not a breach by our general partner of any duties it may owe to us or our common unitholders. This is different from the situation with Delaware corporations, where a conflict resolution by a committee consisting solely of independent directors may, in certain circumstances, merely shift the burden of demonstrating unfairness to the plaintiff. Common unitholders, in purchasing our common units, are deemed as having consented to the provisions set forth in the partnership agreement, including provisions regarding conflicts of interest situations that, in the absence of such provisions, might be considered a breach of fiduciary or other duties under applicable state law. As a result, common unitholders will, as a practical matter, not be able to successfully challenge an informed decision by the conflicts committee. See “Part III. Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance — Partnership Management and Governance — Conflicts Committee.”

 

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The control of our general partner may be transferred to a third party without common unitholder consent.

Our general partner may transfer its general partner interest to a third party in a merger or consolidation without the consent of our common unitholders. Furthermore, at any time, the members of our general partner may sell or transfer all or part of their limited liability company interests in our general partner without the approval of the common unitholders, subject to certain restrictions as described elsewhere in this annual report. A new general partner may not be willing or able to form new investment funds and could form funds that have investment objectives and governing terms that differ materially from those of our current investment funds. A new owner could also have a different investment philosophy, employ investment professionals who are less experienced, be unsuccessful in identifying investment opportunities or have a track record that is not as successful as Blackstone’s track record. If any of the foregoing were to occur, we could experience difficulty in making new investments, and the value of our existing investments, our business, our results of operations and our financial condition could materially suffer.

We intend to pay regular distributions to our common unitholders, but our ability to do so may be limited by cash flow from operations and available liquidity, our holding partnership structure, applicable provisions of Delaware law and contractual restrictions.

Our intention is to distribute quarterly to common unitholders approximately 85% of The Blackstone Group L.P.’s share of Distributable Earnings, subject to adjustment by amounts determined by Blackstone’s general partner to be necessary or appropriate to provide for the conduct of its business, to make appropriate investments in its business and our funds, to comply with applicable law, any of its debt instruments or other agreements, or to provide for future cash requirements such as tax-related payments, clawback obligations and distributions to unitholders for any ensuing quarter. All of the foregoing is subject to the qualification that the declaration and payment of any distributions are at the sole discretion of our general partner, and may change at any time, including, without limitation, to eliminate such distributions entirely.

The Blackstone Group L.P. is a holding partnership and has no material assets other than the ownership of the partnership units in Blackstone Holdings held through wholly owned subsidiaries. The Blackstone Group L.P. has no independent means of generating revenue. Accordingly, we intend to cause Blackstone Holdings to make distributions to its partners, including The Blackstone Group L.P.’s wholly owned subsidiaries, to fund any distributions The Blackstone Group L.P. may declare on the common units.

Our ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders will depend on a number of factors, including among others general economic and business conditions, our strategic plans and prospects, our business and investment opportunities, our financial condition and operating results, including the timing and extent of our realizations, working capital requirements and anticipated cash needs, contractual restrictions and obligations including fulfilling our current and future capital commitments, legal, tax and regulatory restrictions, restrictions and other implications on the payment of distributions by us to our common unitholders or by our subsidiaries to us and such other factors as our general partner may deem relevant.

Under the Delaware Limited Partnership Act, we may not make a distribution to a partner if after the distribution all our liabilities, other than liabilities to partners on account of their partnership interests and liabilities for which the recourse of creditors is limited to specific property of the partnership, would exceed the fair value of our assets. If we were to make such an impermissible distribution, any limited partner who received a distribution and knew at the time of the distribution that the distribution was in violation of the Delaware Limited Partnership Act would be liable to us for the amount of the distribution for three years. In addition, the terms of our revolving credit facility or other financing arrangements may from time to time include covenants or other restrictions that could constrain our ability to make distributions.

 

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The amortization of finite-lived intangible assets and non-cash equity-based compensation results in substantial expenses that may increase the net loss we record in certain periods or cause us to record a net loss in periods during which we would otherwise have recorded net income.

As part of the reorganization related to our IPO we acquired interests in our business from our predecessor owners. This transaction has been accounted for partially as a transfer of interests under common control and partially as an acquisition of non-controlling interests. We accounted for the acquisition of the non-controlling interests using the purchase method of accounting, and reflected the excess of the purchase price over the fair value of the tangible assets acquired and liabilities assumed as goodwill and other intangible assets on our statement of financial condition. As of December 31, 2016, we have $262.6 million of finite-lived intangible assets (in addition to $1.7 billion of goodwill), net of accumulated amortization. These finite-lived intangible assets are from the IPO and other business transactions. We are amortizing these finite-lived intangibles over their estimated useful lives, which range from three to twenty years, using the straight-line method, with a weighted-average remaining amortization period of 6.1 years as of December 31, 2016. The amortization of these finite-lived intangible assets and of this non-cash equity-based compensation will increase our expenses substantially during the relevant periods. These expenses may increase the net loss we record in certain periods or cause us to record a net loss in periods during which we would otherwise have recorded net income.

We are required to pay our senior managing directors for most of the benefits relating to any additional tax depreciation or amortization deductions we may claim as a result of the tax basis step-up we received as part of the reorganization we implemented in connection with our IPO or receive in connection with future exchanges of our common units and related transactions.

As part of the reorganization we implemented in connection with our IPO, we purchased interests in our business from our pre-IPO owners. In addition, holders of partnership units in Blackstone Holdings (other than The Blackstone Group L.P.’s wholly owned subsidiaries), subject to the vesting and minimum retained ownership requirements and transfer restrictions set forth in the partnership agreements of the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships, may up to four times each year (subject to the terms of the exchange agreement) exchange their Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units for The Blackstone Group L.P. common units on a one-for-one basis. A Blackstone Holdings limited partner must exchange one partnership unit in each of the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships to effect an exchange for a common unit. The purchase and subsequent exchanges are expected to result in increases in the tax basis of the tangible and intangible assets of Blackstone Holdings that otherwise would not have been available. These increases in tax basis may increase (for tax purposes) depreciation and amortization and therefore reduce the amount of tax that certain of The Blackstone Group L.P.’s wholly owned subsidiaries that are taxable as corporations for U.S. federal income tax purposes, which we refer to as the “corporate taxpayers,” would otherwise be required to pay in the future, although the IRS may challenge all or part of that tax basis increase, and a court could sustain such a challenge.

One of the corporate taxpayers has entered into a tax receivable agreement with our senior managing directors and other pre-IPO owners that provides for the payment by the corporate taxpayer to the counterparties of 85% of the amount of cash savings, if any, in U.S. federal, state and local income tax or franchise tax that the corporate taxpayers actually realize as a result of these increases in tax basis and of certain other tax benefits related to entering into the tax receivable agreement, including tax benefits attributable to payments under the tax receivable agreement. In addition, additional tax receivable agreements have been executed, and others may continue to be executed, with newly admitted Blackstone senior managing directors and certain others who receive Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units. This payment obligation is an obligation of the corporate taxpayer and not of Blackstone Holdings. As such, the cash distributions to public common unitholders may vary from holders of Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units (held by Blackstone personnel and others) to the extent payments are made under the tax receivable agreements to selling holders of Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units. As the payments reflect actual tax savings received by Blackstone entities, there may be a timing difference between the tax savings received by Blackstone entities and the cash payments to selling holders of Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units. While the actual increase in tax basis, as well as the amount and timing of any payments under this agreement, will

 

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vary depending upon a number of factors, including the timing of exchanges, the price of our common units at the time of the exchange, the extent to which such exchanges are taxable and the amount and timing of our income, we expect that as a result of the size of the increases in the tax basis of the tangible and intangible assets of Blackstone Holdings, the payments that we may make under the tax receivable agreements will be substantial. The payments under a tax receivable agreement are not conditioned upon a tax receivable agreement counterparty’s continued ownership of us. We may need to incur debt to finance payments under the tax receivable agreement to the extent our cash resources are insufficient to meet our obligations under the tax receivable agreements as a result of timing discrepancies or otherwise.

Although we are not aware of any issue that would cause the IRS to challenge a tax basis increase, the tax receivable agreement counterparties will not reimburse us for any payments previously made under the tax receivable agreement. As a result, in certain circumstances payments to the counterparties under the tax receivable agreement could be in excess of the corporate taxpayers’ actual cash tax savings. The corporate taxpayers’ ability to achieve benefits from any tax basis increase, and the payments to be made under the tax receivable agreements, will depend upon a number of factors, as discussed above, including the timing and amount of our future income.

If The Blackstone Group L.P. were deemed an “investment company” under the 1940 Act, applicable restrictions could make it impractical for us to continue our business as contemplated and could have a material adverse effect on our business.

An entity will generally be deemed to be an “investment company” for purposes of the 1940 Act if: (a) it is or holds itself out as being engaged primarily, or proposes to engage primarily, in the business of investing, reinvesting or trading in securities, or (b) absent an applicable exemption, it owns or proposes to acquire investment securities having a value exceeding 40% of the value of its total assets (exclusive of U.S. government securities and cash items) on an unconsolidated basis. We believe that we are engaged primarily in the business of providing asset management and capital markets services and not in the business of investing, reinvesting or trading in securities. We also believe that the primary source of income from each of our businesses is properly characterized as income earned in exchange for the provision of services. We hold ourselves out as an asset management and capital markets firm and do not propose to engage primarily in the business of investing, reinvesting or trading in securities. Accordingly, we do not believe that The Blackstone Group L.P. is an “orthodox” investment company as defined in section 3(a)(1)(A) of the 1940 Act and described in clause (a) in the first sentence of this paragraph. Furthermore, The Blackstone Group L.P. does not have any material assets other than its equity interests in certain wholly owned subsidiaries, which in turn will have no material assets (other than intercompany debt) other than general partner interests in the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships. These wholly owned subsidiaries are the sole general partners of the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships and are vested with all management and control over the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships. We do not believe the equity interests of The Blackstone Group L.P. in its wholly owned subsidiaries or the general partner interests of these wholly owned subsidiaries in the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships are investment securities. Moreover, because we believe that the capital interests of the general partners of our funds in their respective funds are neither securities nor investment securities, we believe that less than 40% of The Blackstone Group L.P.’s total assets (exclusive of U.S. government securities and cash items) on an unconsolidated basis are comprised of assets that could be considered investment securities. Accordingly, we do not believe The Blackstone Group L.P. is an inadvertent investment company by virtue of the 40% test in section 3(a)(1)(C) of the 1940 Act as described in clause (b) in the first sentence of this paragraph. In addition, we believe The Blackstone Group L.P. is not an investment company under section 3(b)(1) of the 1940 Act because it is primarily engaged in a non-investment company business.

The 1940 Act and the rules thereunder contain detailed parameters for the organization and operation of investment companies. Among other things, the 1940 Act and the rules thereunder limit or prohibit transactions with affiliates, impose limitations on the issuance of debt and equity securities, generally prohibit the issuance of options and impose certain governance requirements. We intend to conduct our operations so that The Blackstone Group L.P. will not be deemed to be an investment company under the 1940 Act. If anything were to happen which would cause The Blackstone Group L.P. to be deemed to be an investment company under the 1940 Act, requirements

 

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imposed by the 1940 Act, including limitations on our capital structure, ability to transact business with affiliates (including us) and ability to compensate key employees, could make it impractical for us to continue our business as currently conducted, impair the agreements and arrangements between and among The Blackstone Group L.P., Blackstone Holdings and our senior managing directors, or any combination thereof, and materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, we may be required to limit the amount of investments that we make as a principal or otherwise conduct our business in a manner that does not subject us to the registration and other requirements of the 1940 Act.

Risks Related to Our Common Units

Our common unit price may decline due to the large number of common units eligible for future sale and for exchange.

The market price of our common units could decline as a result of sales of a large number of common units in the market in the future or the perception that such sales could occur. These sales, or the possibility that these sales may occur, also might make it more difficult for us to sell common units in the future at a time and at a price that we deem appropriate. We had a total of 587,607,442 voting common units outstanding as of February 17, 2017. Subject to the lock-up restrictions described below, we may issue and sell in the future additional common units. Limited partners of Blackstone Holdings owned an aggregate of 535,415,895 Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units outstanding as of February 17, 2017. In connection with our initial public offering, we entered into an exchange agreement with holders of Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units (other than The Blackstone Group L.P.’s wholly owned subsidiaries) so that these holders, subject to the vesting and minimum retained ownership requirements and transfer restrictions set forth in the partnership agreements of the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships, may up to four times each year (subject to the terms of the exchange agreement) exchange their Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units for The Blackstone Group L.P. common units on a one-for-one basis, subject to customary conversion rate adjustments for splits, unit distributions and reclassifications. A Blackstone Holdings limited partner must exchange one partnership unit in each of the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships to effect an exchange for a common unit. The common units we issue upon such exchanges would be “restricted securities,” as defined in Rule 144 under the Securities Act, unless we register such issuances. However, we have entered into a registration rights agreement with the limited partners of Blackstone Holdings that requires us to register these common units under the Securities Act and we have filed registration statements that cover the delivery of common units issued upon exchange of Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units. See “Part III. Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence — Transactions with Related Persons — Registration Rights Agreement.” While the partnership agreements of the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships and related agreements contractually restrict the ability of Blackstone personnel to transfer the Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units or The Blackstone Group L.P. common units they hold and require that they maintain a minimum amount of equity ownership during their employ by us, these contractual provisions may lapse over time or be waived, modified or amended at any time.

In addition, in June 2007, we entered into an agreement with Beijing Wonderful Investments, an investment vehicle established and controlled by The People’s Republic of China, pursuant to which we sold to it non-voting common units. As of February 17, 2017 Beijing Wonderful Investments owned 54,470,009 non-voting common units. We have agreed to provide Beijing Wonderful Investments with registration rights to effect certain sales.

As of February 17, 2017, we had granted 13,726,487 outstanding deferred restricted common units and 44,046,267 outstanding deferred restricted Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units, which are subject to specified vesting requirements, to our non-senior managing director professionals and senior managing directors under The Blackstone Group L.P. 2007 Equity Incentive Plan (“2007 Equity Incentive Plan”). The aggregate number of common units and Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units covered by our 2007 Equity Incentive Plan is increased on the first day of each fiscal year during its term by a number of units equal to the positive difference, if any, of (a) 15% of the aggregate number of common units and Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units outstanding on the last day of the immediately preceding fiscal year (excluding Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units held by The Blackstone Group L.P. or its wholly owned subsidiaries) minus (b) the aggregate number of common units and

 

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Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units covered by our 2007 Equity Incentive Plan as of such date (unless the administrator of the 2007 Equity Incentive Plan should decide to increase the number of common units and Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units covered by the plan by a lesser amount). An aggregate of 167,984,158 additional common units and Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units were available for grant under our 2007 Equity Incentive Plan as of February 17, 2017. We have filed a registration statement and intend to file additional registration statements on Form S-8 under the Securities Act to register common units covered by our 2007 Equity Incentive Plan (including pursuant to automatic annual increases). Any such Form S-8 registration statement will automatically become effective upon filing. Accordingly, common units registered under such registration statement will be available for sale in the open market.

In addition, our partnership agreement authorizes us to issue an unlimited number of additional partnership securities and options, rights, warrants and appreciation rights relating to partnership securities for the consideration and on the terms and conditions established by our general partner in its sole discretion without the approval of any limited partners. In accordance with the Delaware Limited Partnership Act and the provisions of our partnership agreement, we may also issue additional partnership interests that have certain designations, preferences, rights, powers and duties that are different from, and may be senior to, those applicable to common units. Similarly, the Blackstone Holdings partnership agreements authorize the wholly owned subsidiaries of The Blackstone Group L.P. which are the general partners of those partnerships to issue an unlimited number of additional partnership securities of the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships with such designations, preferences, rights, powers and duties that are different from, and may be senior to, those applicable to the Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units, and which may be exchangeable for our common units.

The market price of our common units may be volatile, which could cause the value of your investment to decline.

Securities markets worldwide experience significant price and volume fluctuations. This market volatility, as well as general economic, market or political conditions, could reduce the market price of common units in spite of our operating performance. In addition, our operating results could be below the expectations of public market analysts and investors, and in response the market price of our common units could decrease significantly. You may be unable to resell your common units at or above the price you paid for them.

Risks Related to United States Taxation

Our structure involves complex provisions of U.S. federal income tax law for which no clear precedent or authority may be available. Our structure also is subject to potential legislative, judicial or administrative change and differing interpretations, possibly on a retroactive basis.

The U.S. federal income tax treatment of common unitholders depends in some instances on determinations of fact and interpretations of complex provisions of U.S. federal income tax law for which no clear precedent or authority may be available. The U.S. federal income tax rules are constantly under review by persons involved in the legislative process, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or “IRS,” and the U.S. Treasury Department, frequently resulting in revised interpretations of established concepts, statutory changes, revisions to regulations and other modifications and interpretations. The IRS pays close attention to the proper application of tax laws to partnerships. The present U.S. federal income tax treatment of an investment in our common units may be modified by administrative, legislative or judicial interpretation at any time, and any such action may affect investments and commitments previously made. Changes to the U.S. federal income tax laws and interpretations thereof could make it more difficult or impossible to meet the exception for us to be treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes that is not taxable as a corporation (referred to as the “Qualifying Income Exception”), affect or cause us to change our investments and commitments, affect the tax considerations of an investment in us, change the character or treatment of portions of our income (including, for instance, the treatment of carried interest as ordinary income rather than capital gain) and adversely affect an investment in our common units. For example, as discussed above under “— In past years, the U.S. Congress has considered legislation that, if enacted, would have (a) for

 

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taxable years beginning ten years after the date of enactment, precluded us from qualifying as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes or required us to hold carried interest through taxable subsidiary corporations and (b) taxed individual holders of common units with respect to certain income and gains at increased rates. If any similar legislation were to be enacted and apply to us, we could incur a material increase in our tax liability and a substantial portion of our income could be taxed at a higher rate to the individual holders of our common units,” the U.S. Congress has considered various legislative proposals to treat all or part of the capital gain and dividend income that is recognized by an investment partnership and allocable to a partner affiliated with the sponsor of the partnership (i.e., a portion of the carried interest) as ordinary income to such partner for U.S. federal income tax purposes. During his presidential campaign, President Trump expressed support for legislation ending treatment of carried interest as capital gain.

Our organizational documents and governing agreements permit our general partner to modify our amended and restated limited partnership agreement from time to time, without the consent of the common unitholders, to address certain changes in U.S. federal income tax regulations, legislation or interpretation. In some circumstances, such revisions could have a material adverse impact on some or all common unitholders. Moreover, we will apply certain assumptions and conventions in an attempt to comply with applicable rules and to report income, gain, deduction, loss and credit to common unitholders in a manner that reflects such common unitholders’ beneficial ownership of partnership items, taking into account variation in unitholder ownership interests during each taxable year because of trading activity. More specifically, our allocations of items of taxable income and loss between transferors and transferees of our units will be determined annually, will be prorated on a monthly basis and will be subsequently apportioned among the unitholders in proportion to the number of units owned by each of them determined as of the opening of trading of our units on the New York Stock Exchange on the first business day of every month. As a result, a unitholder transferring units may be allocated income, gain, loss and deductions realized after the date of transfer. However, those assumptions and conventions may not be in compliance with all aspects of applicable tax requirements. The IRS could potentially assert successfully that the conventions and assumptions used by us do not satisfy the technical requirements of the Internal Revenue Code and/or Treasury regulations and could require that items of income, gain, deductions, loss or credit, including interest deductions, be adjusted, reallocated or disallowed in a manner that adversely affects common unitholders.

If we were treated as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax or state tax purposes, then our distributions to our common unitholders would be substantially reduced and the value of our common units would be adversely affected.

The amount of distributions to our common unitholders and the value of our common units depend in part on our being treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes, which requires that 90% or more of our gross income for every taxable year consist of qualifying income, as defined in Section 7704 of the Internal Revenue Code and that The Blackstone Group L.P. not be registered under the 1940 Act. Qualifying income generally includes dividends, interest, capital gains from the sale or other disposition of stocks and securities and certain other forms of investment income. We may not meet these requirements or current law may change so as to cause, in either event, us to be treated as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes or otherwise subject to U.S. federal income tax. We have not requested, and do not plan to request, a ruling from the IRS on this or any other matter affecting us. Moreover, our general partner may elect to take actions that result in our being treated as an entity taxable as a corporation for U.S. federal (and applicable state) income tax purposes without the approval of our common unitholders.

If we were treated as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we would pay U.S. federal income tax on our taxable income at the corporate tax rate. Distributions to our common unitholders would generally be taxed again as corporate distributions, and no income, gains, losses, deductions or credits would flow through to you. Because a tax would be imposed upon us as a corporation, our distributions to our common unitholders would be substantially reduced, likely causing a substantial reduction in the value of our common units.

Current law may change, causing us to be treated as a corporation for U.S. federal or state income tax purposes or otherwise subjecting us to entity level taxation. See “— In past years, the U.S. Congress has considered

 

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legislation that, if enacted, would have (a) for taxable years beginning ten years after the date of enactment, precluded us from qualifying as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes or required us to hold carried interest through taxable subsidiary corporations and (b) taxed individual holders of common units with respect to certain income and gains at increased rates. If any similar legislation were to be enacted and apply to us, we could incur a material increase in our tax liability and a substantial portion of our income could be taxed at a higher rate to the individual holders of our common units.” For example, because of widespread state budget deficits, several states have evaluated ways to subject partnerships to entity level taxation through the imposition of state income, franchise or other forms of taxation. If any state were to impose a tax upon us as an entity, our distributions to our common unitholders would be reduced.

Our common unitholders may be subject to U.S. federal income tax on their share of our taxable income, regardless of whether they receive any cash distributions from us.

As long as 90% of our gross income for each taxable year constitutes qualifying income as defined in Section 7704 of the Internal Revenue Code and we are not required to register as an investment company under the 1940 Act on a continuing basis, we will be treated, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, as a partnership and not as an association or a publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation. Accordingly, each unitholder will be required to take into account its allocable share of items of income, gain, loss and deduction of the Partnership. Distributions to a unitholder will generally be taxable to the unitholder for U.S. federal income tax purposes only to the extent the amount distributed exceeds the unitholder’s tax basis in the unit. That treatment contrasts with the treatment of a shareholder in a corporation. For example, a shareholder in a corporation who receives a distribution of earnings from the corporation will generally report the distribution as dividend income for U.S. federal income tax purposes. In contrast, a holder of our units who receives a distribution of earnings from us will not report the distribution as dividend income (and will treat the distribution as taxable only to the extent the amount distributed exceeds the unitholder’s tax basis in the units), but will instead report the holder’s allocable share of items of our income for U.S. federal income tax purposes. As a result, our common unitholders may be subject to U.S. federal, state, local and possibly, in some cases, foreign income taxation on their allocable share of our items of income, gain, loss, deduction and credit (including our allocable share of those items of any entity in which we invest that is treated as a partnership or is otherwise subject to tax on a flow through basis) for each of our taxable years ending with or within your taxable year, regardless of whether or not a common unitholder receives cash distributions from us.

Our common unitholders may not receive cash distributions equal to their allocable share of our net taxable income or even the tax liability that results from that income. In addition, certain of our holdings, including holdings, if any, in a Controlled Foreign Corporation, or “CFC,” and a Passive Foreign Investment Company, or “PFIC,” may produce taxable income prior to the receipt of cash relating to such income, and common unitholders that are U.S. taxpayers will be required to take such income into account in determining their taxable income. In the event of an inadvertent termination of our partnership status for which the IRS has granted us limited relief, each holder of our common units may be obligated to make such adjustments as the IRS may require to maintain our status as a partnership. Such adjustments may require persons holding our common units to recognize additional amounts in income during the years in which they hold such units.

The Blackstone Group L.P.’s interest in certain of our businesses are held through Blackstone Holdings I/II GP Inc. or Blackstone Holdings IV GP L.P., which are treated as corporations for U.S. federal income tax purposes; such corporations may be liable for significant taxes and may create other adverse tax consequences, which could potentially adversely affect the value of your investment.

In light of the publicly traded partnership rules under U.S. federal income tax law and other requirements, The Blackstone Group L.P. holds its interest in certain of our businesses through Blackstone Holdings I/II GP Inc. or Blackstone Holdings IV GP L.P., which are treated as corporations for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Each such corporation could be liable for significant U.S. federal income taxes and applicable state, local and other taxes that would not otherwise be incurred, which could adversely affect the value of our common units.

 

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Complying with certain tax-related requirements may cause us to invest through foreign or domestic corporations subject to corporate income tax or enter into acquisitions, borrowings, financings or arrangements we may not have otherwise entered into.

In order for us to be treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes and not as an association or publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation, we must meet the Qualifying Income Exception discussed above on a continuing basis and we must not be required to register as an investment company under the 1940 Act. In order to effect such treatment, we (or our subsidiaries) may be required to invest through foreign or domestic corporations subject to corporate income tax, or enter into acquisitions, borrowings, financings or other transactions we may not have otherwise entered into. This may adversely affect our ability to operate solely to maximize our cash flow.

Tax gain or loss on disposition of our common units could be more or less than expected.

If a holder of our common units sells the common units it holds, it will recognize a gain or loss equal to the difference between the amount realized and the adjusted tax basis in those common units. Prior distributions to such common unitholder in excess of the total net taxable income allocated to such common unitholder, which decreased the tax basis in its common units, will in effect become taxable income to such common unitholder if the common units are sold at a price greater than such common unitholder’s tax basis in those common units, even if the price is less than the original cost. A portion of the amount realized, whether or not representing gain, may be ordinary income to such common unitholder.

If we were not to make, or cause to be made, an otherwise available election under Section 754 of the Internal Revenue Code to adjust our asset basis or the asset basis of certain of the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships, a holder of common units could be allocated more taxable income in respect of those common units prior to disposition than if such an election were made.

We currently do not intend to make, or cause to be made, an election to adjust asset basis under Section 754 of the Internal Revenue Code with respect to us, Blackstone Holdings III L.P. or Blackstone Holdings IV L.P. As a result, there will generally be no adjustment to the basis of the assets of Blackstone Holdings III L.P. or Blackstone Holdings IV L.P. upon our acquisition of interests in Blackstone Holdings III L.P. or Blackstone Holdings IV L.P. in connection with our initial public offering, or to our assets or to the assets of Blackstone Holdings III L.P. or Blackstone Holdings IV L.P. upon a subsequent transferee’s acquisition of common units from a prior holder of such common units, even if the purchase price for those interests or units, as applicable, is greater than the share of the aggregate tax basis of our assets or the assets of Blackstone Holdings III L.P. or Blackstone Holdings IV L.P. attributable to those interests or units immediately prior to the acquisition. Consequently, upon a sale of an asset by us, Blackstone Holdings III L.P. or Blackstone Holdings IV L.P., gain allocable to a holder of common units could include built-in gain in the asset existing at the time we acquired those interests, or such holder acquired such units, which built-in gain would otherwise generally be eliminated if a Section 754 election had been made.

Non-U.S. persons face unique U.S. tax issues from owning common units that may result in adverse tax consequences to them.

In light of our investment activities, we will be treated as engaged in a U.S. trade or business for U.S. federal income tax purposes, which may cause some portion of our income to be treated as effectively connected income with respect to non-U.S. holders, or “ECI.” Moreover, dividends paid by an investment that we make in a REIT that are attributable to gains from the sale of U.S. real property interests and sales of certain investments in interests in U.S. real property, including stock of certain U.S. corporations owning significant U.S. real property, may be treated as ECI with respect to certain non-U.S. holders. In addition, certain income of non-U.S. holders from U.S. sources not connected to any such U.S. trade or business conducted by us could be treated as ECI. To the extent our income is treated as ECI, non-U.S. holders generally would be subject to withholding tax on their allocable shares of such income, would be required to file a U.S. federal income tax return for such year reporting their allocable shares of

 

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income effectively connected with such trade or business and any other income treated as ECI, and would be subject to U.S. federal income tax at regular U.S. tax rates on any such income (state and local income taxes and filings may also apply in that event). Non-U.S. holders that are corporations may also be subject to a 30% branch profits tax on their allocable share of such income. In addition, certain income from U.S. sources that is not ECI allocable to non-U.S. holders may be reduced by withholding taxes imposed at the highest effective applicable tax rate. A portion of any gain recognized by a non-U.S. holder on the sale or exchange of common units could also be treated as ECI.

Tax-exempt entities face unique tax issues from owning common units that may result in adverse tax consequences to them.

In light of our investment activities, we will be treated as deriving income that constitutes “unrelated business taxable income,” or “UBTI.” Consequently, a holder of common units that is a tax-exempt organization may be subject to “unrelated business income tax” to the extent that its allocable share of our income consists of UBTI. A tax-exempt partner of a partnership could be treated as earning UBTI if the partnership regularly engages in a trade or business that is unrelated to the exempt function of the tax-exempt partner, if the partnership derives income from debt-financed property or if the partnership interest itself is debt-financed.

We cannot match transferors and transferees of common units, and we have therefore adopted certain income tax accounting positions that may not conform with all aspects of applicable tax requirements. The IRS may challenge this treatment, which could adversely affect the value of our common units.

Because we cannot match transferors and transferees of common units, we have adopted depreciation, amortization and other tax accounting positions that may not conform with all aspects of existing Treasury regulations. A successful IRS challenge to those positions could adversely affect the amount of tax benefits available to our common unitholders. It also could affect the timing of these tax benefits or the amount of gain on the sale of common units and could have a negative impact on the value of our common units or result in audits of and adjustments to our common unitholders’ tax returns.

The sale or exchange of 50% or more of our capital and profit interests will result in the termination of our partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes. We will be considered to have been terminated for U.S. federal income tax purposes if there is a sale or exchange of 50% or more of the total interests in our capital and profits within a 12-month period. Our termination would, among other things, result in the closing of our taxable year for all common unitholders and could result in a deferral of depreciation deductions allowable in computing our taxable income.

Common unitholders will be subject to state and local taxes and return filing requirements as a result of investing in our common units.

In addition to U.S. federal income taxes, our common unitholders are subject to other taxes, including state and local taxes, unincorporated business taxes and estate, inheritance or intangible taxes that are imposed by the various jurisdictions in which we do business or own property now or in the future, even if our common unitholders do not reside in any of those jurisdictions. Our common unitholders are likely to be required to file state and local income tax returns and pay state and local income taxes in some or all of these jurisdictions. Further, common unitholders may be subject to penalties for failure to comply with those requirements. The filing all U.S. federal, state and local tax returns that may be required of a common unitholder is the responsibility of such common unitholder. Our counsel has not rendered an opinion on the state or local tax consequences of an investment in our common units.

 

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While we anticipate that we will be able to provide to each unitholder specific tax information within 90 days after the close of each calendar year, we cannot guarantee this will be the case. To the extent we are unable to furnish the information within 90 days, holders of common units who are U.S. taxpayers may need to file a request for an extension of the due date of their income return. In addition, common unitholders may be required to file amended income tax returns.

It may require longer than 90 days after the end of our fiscal year to obtain the requisite information from all lower-tier entities so that K-1s may be prepared for the Partnership. For this reason, holders of common units who are U.S. taxpayers should anticipate the need to file annually with the IRS (and certain states) a request for an extension past April 15 or the otherwise applicable due date of their income tax return for the taxable year. In addition, common unitholder may be required to file amended income tax returns as a result of adjustments to items on the corresponding income tax returns of the partnership. Any obligation for a unitholder to file amended income tax returns for that or any other reason, including any costs incurred in the preparation or filing of such returns, is the responsibility of each common unitholder.

Certain U.S. holders of common units are subject to additional tax on “net investment income.”

U.S. holders that are individuals, estates or trusts are currently subject to a Medicare tax of 3.8% on “net investment income” (or undistributed “net investment income,” in the case of estates and trusts) for each taxable year, with such tax applying to the lesser of such income or the excess of such person’s adjusted gross income (with certain adjustments) over a specified amount (although both Congress and President Trump have recently set forth proposals to repeal this Medicare tax). Net investment income includes net income from interest, dividends, annuities, royalties and rents and net gain attributable to the disposition of investment property. Net income and gain attributable to an investment in the Partnership will be included in a U.S. holder’s “net investment income” subject to this Medicare tax.

We may be liable for adjustments to our tax returns as a result of partnership audit legislation.

Legislation enacted in 2015 significantly changed the rules for U.S. federal income tax audits of partnerships. Such audits will continue to be conducted at the partnership level, but with respect to tax returns for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, and, unless a partnership qualifies for and affirmatively elects an alternative procedure, any adjustments to the amount of tax due (including interest and penalties) will be payable by the partnership. Under the elective alternative procedure, a partnership would issue information returns to persons who were partners in the audited year, who would then be required to take the adjustments into account in calculating their own tax liability, and the partnership would not be liable for the adjustments. If a partnership elects the alternative procedure for a given adjustment, the amount of taxes for which its partners would be liable would be increased by any applicable penalties and a special interest charge. There can be no assurance that we will be eligible to make such an election or that we will, in fact, make such an election for any given adjustment. If we do not or are not able to make such an election, then (a) our then-current common unitholders, in the aggregate, could indirectly bear income tax liabilities in excess of the aggregate amount of taxes that would have been due had we elected the alternative procedure, and (b) a given common unitholder may indirectly bear taxes attributable to income allocable to other common unitholders or former common unitholders, including taxes (as well as interest and penalties) with respect to periods prior to such holder’s ownership of common units. Amounts available for distribution to our common unitholders may be reduced as a result of our obligation to pay any taxes associated with an adjustment. Many issues and the overall effect of this legislation on us are uncertain, and common unitholders should consult their own tax advisors regarding all aspects of this legislation as it affects their particular circumstances.

 

ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.

 

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ITEM 2. PROPERTIES

Our principal executive offices are located in leased office space at 345 Park Avenue, New York, New York. As of December 31, 2016, we also leased offices in Dublin, Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, Singapore, Tokyo and 23 other cities around the world. We do not own any real property. We consider these facilities to be suitable and adequate for the management and operations of our business.

 

ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

We may from time to time be involved in litigation and claims incidental to the conduct of our business. Our businesses are also subject to extensive regulation, which may result in regulatory proceedings against us. See “Item 1A. Risk Factors” above. We are not currently subject to any pending judicial, administrative or arbitration proceedings that we expect to have a material impact on our consolidated financial statements. However, given the inherent unpredictability of these types of proceedings and the potentially large and/or indeterminate amounts that could be sought, an adverse outcome in certain matters could have a material effect on Blackstone’s financial results in any particular period.

 

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Not applicable.

 

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PART II.

 

ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

Our common units representing limited partner interests are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the symbol “BX.” Our common units began trading on the NYSE on June 22, 2007.

The number of holders of record of our common units as of February 17, 2017 was 76. This does not include the number of unitholders that hold common units in “street name” through banks or broker-dealers.

The following table sets forth the high and low intra-day sales prices per common unit, as reported by the NYSE, and the per unit common unitholder and Blackstone Holdings Partnership unitholder distributions for the periods indicated:

 

     2016      2015  
                   Distributions (a)                    Distributions (a)  
     High      Low      Common
Unitholder
     Blackstone
Holdings
Partnership
Unitholder (b)
     High      Low      Common
Unitholder
     Blackstone
Holdings
Partnership
Unitholder (b)
 

First Quarter

   $ 29.34      $ 22.31      $ 0.28      $ 0.28      $ 39.62      $ 32.36      $ 0.89      $ 0.90  

Second Quarter

   $ 29.60      $ 23.26        0.36        0.37      $ 44.43      $ 38.31        0.74        0.74  

Third Quarter

   $ 28.51      $ 22.45        0.41        0.45      $ 42.60      $ 28.56        0.49        0.49  

Fourth Quarter

   $ 30.25      $ 23.33        0.47        0.53      $ 35.24      $ 26.82        0.61        0.65  
        

 

 

    

 

 

          

 

 

    

 

 

 
         $ 1.52      $ 1.63            $ 2.73      $ 2.78  
        

 

 

    

 

 

          

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

(a) Per unitholder distributions earned in each respective quarter. Each quarter’s distributions are declared and paid in the following quarter.
(b) Represents the per unit amounts paid to Blackstone personnel and others who are limited partners of the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships.

Cash Distribution Policy

Distributable Earnings, which is a component of Economic Net Income, is the sum across all segments of: (a) Total Management and Advisory Fees, (b) Interest and Dividend Revenue, (c) Other Revenue, (d) Realized Performance Fees, and (e) Realized Investment Income (Loss); less (a) Compensation, excluding the expense of equity-based awards, (b) Realized Performance Fee Compensation, (c) Other Operating Expenses, and (d) Taxes and Payables Under the Tax Receivable Agreement.

Our intention is to distribute quarterly to common unitholders approximately 85% of The Blackstone Group L.P.’s share of Distributable Earnings, subject to adjustment by amounts determined by Blackstone’s general partner to be necessary or appropriate to provide for the conduct of its business, to make appropriate investments in its business and funds, to comply with applicable law, any of its debt instruments or other agreements, or to provide for future cash requirements such as tax-related payments, clawback obligations and distributions to unitholders for any ensuing quarter. The amount distributed could also be adjusted upward in any one quarter.

All of the foregoing is subject to the qualification that the declaration and payment of any distributions are at the sole discretion of our general partner, and our general partner may change our distribution policy at any time, including, without limitation, to eliminate such distributions entirely.

 

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Because The Blackstone Group L.P. is a holding partnership and has no material assets other than its ownership of partnership units in Blackstone Holdings held through wholly owned subsidiaries, we fund distributions by The Blackstone Group L.P., if any, in three steps:

 

   

First, we cause Blackstone Holdings to make distributions to its partners, including The Blackstone Group L.P.’s wholly owned subsidiaries. If Blackstone Holdings makes such distributions, the limited partners of Blackstone Holdings will be entitled to receive equivalent distributions pro rata based on their partnership interests in Blackstone Holdings (except as set forth in the following paragraph),

 

   

Second, we cause The Blackstone Group L.P.’s wholly owned subsidiaries to distribute to The Blackstone Group L.P. their share of such distributions, net of the taxes and amounts payable under the tax receivable agreements by such wholly owned subsidiaries, and

 

   

Third, The Blackstone Group L.P. distributes its net share of such distributions to our common unitholders on a pro rata basis.

Because the wholly owned subsidiaries of The Blackstone Group L.P. must pay taxes and make payments under the tax receivable agreements described in Note 17. “Related Party Transactions” in the “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” in “— Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data,” the amounts ultimately distributed by The Blackstone Group L.P. to its common unitholders are generally expected to be less, on a per unit basis, than the amounts distributed by the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships to the Blackstone personnel and others who are limited partners of the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships in respect of their Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units.

In addition, the partnership agreements of the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships provide for cash distributions, which we refer to as “tax distributions,” to the partners of such partnerships if the wholly owned subsidiaries of The Blackstone Group L.P. which are the general partners of the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships determine that the taxable income of the relevant partnership will give rise to taxable income for its partners. Generally, these tax distributions will be computed based on our estimate of the net taxable income of the relevant partnership allocable to a partner multiplied by an assumed tax rate equal to the highest effective marginal combined U.S. federal, state and local income tax rate prescribed for an individual or corporate resident in New York, New York (taking into account the nondeductibility of certain expenses and the character of our income). The Blackstone Holdings Partnerships will make tax distributions only to the extent distributions from such partnerships for the relevant year were otherwise insufficient to cover such estimated assumed tax liabilities.

Under the Delaware Limited Partnership Act, we may not make a distribution to a partner if after the distribution all our liabilities, other than liabilities to partners on account of their partnership interests and liabilities for which the recourse of creditors is limited to specific property of the partnership, would exceed the fair value of our assets. If we were to make such an impermissible distribution, any limited partner who received a distribution and knew at the time of the distribution that the distribution was in violation of the Delaware Limited Partnership Act would be liable to us for the amount of the distribution for three years. In addition, the terms of our revolving credit facility or other financing arrangements may from time to time include covenants or other restrictions that could constrain our ability to make distributions.

Unit Repurchases in the Fourth Quarter of 2016

In January 2008, the Board of Directors of our general partner, Blackstone Group Management L.L.C., authorized the repurchase of up to $500 million of Blackstone common units and Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units. Under this unit repurchase program, units may be repurchased from time to time in open market transactions, in privately negotiated transactions or otherwise. The timing and the actual number of Blackstone common units and Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units repurchased will depend on a variety of factors, including legal requirements, price and economic and market conditions. The unit repurchase program may be suspended or discontinued at any time and does not have a specified expiration date. During the three months ended

 

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December 31, 2016, no units were repurchased. As of December 31, 2016, the amount remaining under this program available for repurchases was $335.8 million. See “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data — Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements — Note 15. Net Income Per Common Unit” and “— Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources — Sources and Uses of Liquidity” for further information regarding this unit repurchase program.

As permitted by our policies and procedures governing transactions in our securities by our directors, executive officers and other employees, from time to time some of these persons may establish plans or arrangements complying with Rule 10b5-1 under the Exchange Act, and similar plans and arrangements relating to our common units and Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units.

 

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ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

The consolidated statements of financial condition and income data as of and for each of the five years ended December 31, 2016 have been derived from our consolidated financial statements. The audited Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition as of December 31, 2016 and 2015 and the Consolidated Statements of Operations for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014 are included elsewhere in this Form 10-K. The audited Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition as of December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012 and the Consolidated Statements of Operations for the years ended December 31, 2013 and 2012 are not included in this Form 10-K. Historical results are not necessarily indicative of results for any future period.

The selected consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with “— Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Form 10-K:

 

    Year Ended December 31,  
    2016     2015     2014     2013     2012  
    (Dollars in Thousands)  

Revenues

         

Management and Advisory Fees, Net

  $ 2,442,975     $ 2,542,505     $ 2,497,252     $ 2,193,985     $ 2,030,693  

Performance Fees

    2,176,331       1,796,666       4,374,262       3,544,057       1,593,052  

Investment Income

    356,051       204,642       534,000       800,308       350,194  

Interest and Dividend Revenue and Other

    150,477       102,739       79,214       74,818       45,502  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Revenues

    5,125,834       4,646,552       7,484,728       6,613,168       4,019,441  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Expenses

         

Compensation and Benefits

    2,203,430       2,290,751       3,154,371       3,257,667       2,605,244  

General, Administrative and Other

    520,309       576,103       549,463       474,442       548,738  

Interest Expense

    152,654       144,522       121,524       107,973       72,870  

Fund Expenses

    52,181       79,499       30,498       26,658       33,829  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Expenses

    2,928,574       3,090,875       3,855,856       3,866,740       3,260,681  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Other Income

         

Reversal of Tax Receivable Agreement Liability

    —         82,707       —         20,469       —    

Net Gains from Fund Investment Activities

    184,750       176,364       357,854       381,664       256,145  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Other Income

    184,750       259,071       357,854       402,133       256,145  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income Before Provision for Taxes

    2,382,010       1,814,748       3,986,726       3,148,561       1,014,905  

Provision for Taxes

    132,362       190,398       291,173       255,642       185,023  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Income

    2,249,648       1,624,350       3,695,553       2,892,919       829,882  

Net Income Attributable to Redeemable Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities

    3,977       11,145       74,794       183,315       103,598  

Net Income Attributable to Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities

    246,152       219,900       335,070       198,557       99,959  

Net Income Attributable to Non-Controlling Interests in Blackstone Holdings

    960,284       683,516       1,701,100       1,339,845       407,727  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Income Attributable to The Blackstone Group L.P.

  $ 1,039,235     $ 709,789     $ 1,584,589     $ 1,171,202     $ 218,598  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

    Year Ended December 31,  
    2016     2015     2014     2013     2012  

Net Income Per Common Unit, Basic and Diluted

         

Common Units, Basic

  $ 1.60     $ 1.12     $ 2.60     $ 2.00     $ 0.41  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Common Units, Diluted

  $ 1.56     $ 1.04     $ 2.58     $ 1.98     $ 0.41  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Distributions Declared Per Common Unit (a)

  $ 1.66     $ 2.90     $ 1.92     $ 1.18     $ 0.52  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

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(a) Distributions declared reflects the calendar date of declaration for each distribution. The fourth quarter distribution, if any, for any fiscal year will be declared and paid in the subsequent fiscal year.

 

     December 31,  
     2016      2015      2014      2013      2012  
     (Dollars in Thousands)  

Statement of Financial Condition Data

              

Total Assets (a)

   $ 26,403,337      $ 22,526,080      $ 31,497,097      $ 29,668,959      $ 28,921,060  

Senior Notes

   $ 3,399,922      $ 2,797,060      $ 2,136,706      $ 1,654,659      $ 1,660,361  

Total Liabilities (a)

   $ 13,888,404      $ 10,295,623      $ 14,163,550      $ 15,291,288      $ 17,706,113  

Redeemable Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities

   $ 185,390      $ 183,459      $ 2,441,854      $ 1,950,442      $ 1,556,185  

Total Partners’ Capital

   $ 12,329,543      $ 12,046,998      $ 14,891,693      $ 12,427,229      $ 9,658,762  

 

(a) The decrease in total assets, total liabilities and redeemable non-controlling interests in consolidated entities from December 31, 2014 to December 31, 2015 was principally due to the adoption as of January 1, 2015 of new accounting consolidation guidance which resulted in the deconsolidation of certain Blackstone Funds.

 

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ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

The following discussion and analysis should be read in conjunction with The Blackstone Group L.P.’s consolidated financial statements and the related notes included within this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Our Business

Blackstone is one of the largest independent managers of private capital in the world. Our business is organized into four segments:

 

   

Private Equity. We are a world leader in private equity investing, having managed seven general private equity funds, as well as three sector focused funds, since we established this business in 1987. Our Private Equity segment includes our corporate private equity business, which consists of our flagship corporate private equity funds, Blackstone Capital Partners (“BCP”) funds, our sector-focused corporate private equity funds, including our energy-focused funds, Blackstone Energy Partners (“BEP”) funds and our core private equity fund, Blackstone Core Equity Partners (“BCEP”). In addition, our Private Equity segment includes our opportunistic investment platform that invests globally across asset classes, industries and geographies, Blackstone Tactical Opportunities (“Tactical Opportunities”), our secondary private equity fund of funds business, Strategic Partners Fund Solutions (“Strategic Partners”), a multi-asset investment program for eligible high net worth investors offering exposure to certain of Blackstone’s key illiquid investment strategies through a single commitment, Blackstone Total Alternatives Solutions (“BTAS”) and our capital markets services business, Blackstone Capital Markets (“BXCM”).

Our corporate private equity business pursues transactions throughout the world across a variety of transaction types, including large buyouts, mid-cap buyouts, buy and build platforms (which involve multiple acquisitions behind a single management team and platform) and growth equity/development projects (which involve significant minority investments in mature companies and greenfield development projects in energy and power). Tactical Opportunities seeks to capitalize on complex and dislocated market situations across asset classes, industries and geographies in a broad range of investments, including private and public securities, and instruments, where the underlying exposure may be to equity, debt, and/or real assets. Strategic Partners focuses on delivering access to a range of opportunities, leveraging its proprietary database to acquire single fund interests or complex portfolios in an efficient and timely manner.

 

   

Real Estate. Our Real Estate group is one of the largest real estate investment managers in the world. We operate as one globally integrated business, with investments in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Our Blackstone Real Estate Partners (“BREP”) funds are geographically diversified and target a broad range of “opportunistic” real estate and real estate related investments. The BREP funds include global funds as well as funds focused specifically on Europe or Asia investments. We seek to acquire high quality, well-located yet undermanaged assets at an attractive basis, address any property or business issues through active asset management and sell the assets once our business plan is accomplished. BREP has made significant investments in hotels, office buildings, shopping centers, residential and industrial assets, as well as a variety of real estate operating companies.

Our Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies (“BREDS”) vehicles target debt investment opportunities collateralized by commercial real estate in both public and private markets, primarily in the U.S. and Europe. BREDS’ scale and investment mandates enable it to provide a variety of lending and investment options including mezzanine loans, senior loans and liquid securities. The BREDS platform includes a number of high yield real estate debt funds, liquid real estate debt funds and BXMT, a NYSE-listed REIT.

Our core+ real estate business, Blackstone Property Partners (“BPP”) has assembled a global portfolio of high quality core+ investments across the U.S., Europe and Asia. Our BPP vehicles target substantially

 

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stabilized assets in prime markets with a focus on office, multifamily, industrial and retail assets. We manage several core+ real estate funds and a non-exchange traded REIT.

 

   

Hedge Fund Solutions. Blackstone’s Hedge Fund Solutions segment is comprised principally of Blackstone Alternative Asset Management (“BAAM”). BAAM is the world’s largest discretionary allocator to hedge funds, managing a broad range of commingled and customized hedge fund of fund solutions since its inception in 1990. The Hedge Fund Solutions segment also includes investment platforms that seed new hedge fund businesses, purchase minority ownership interests in more established hedge funds, invest in special situation opportunities, create alternative solutions in regulated structures and trade directly.

 

   

Credit. Our credit business consists principally of GSO Capital Partners LP (“GSO”) which was founded in 2005 and subsequently acquired by Blackstone in 2008. GSO is one of the largest leveraged finance-focused alternative asset managers in the world and is the largest manager of CLOs globally. The investment portfolios of the funds we manage or sub-advise predominantly consist of loans and securities of non-investment grade companies spread across the capital structure including senior debt, subordinated debt, preferred stock and common equity.

The GSO business is organized into three overarching strategies: performing credit, distressed and long only. Our performing credit strategies include mezzanine lending funds, business development companies that we sub-advise (“BDCs”) and other performing credit strategy funds. Our distressed strategies include hedge fund strategies, rescue lending funds and distressed energy strategies. GSO’s long only strategies consist of CLOs, closed end funds, commingled funds and separately managed accounts.

We generate revenue from fees earned pursuant to contractual arrangements with funds, fund investors and fund portfolio companies (including management, transaction and monitoring fees), and from capital markets services. We invest in the funds we manage and, in most cases, receive a preferred allocation of income (i.e., a carried interest) or an incentive fee from an investment fund in the event that specified cumulative investment returns are achieved (generally collectively referred to as “Performance Fees”). The composition of our revenues will vary based on market conditions and the cyclicality of the different businesses in which we operate. Net investment gains and investment income generated by the Blackstone Funds, principally private equity and real estate funds, are driven by value created by our operating and strategic initiatives as well as overall market conditions. Fair values are affected by changes in the fundamentals of the portfolio company, the portfolio company’s industry, the overall economy and other market conditions.

Business Environment

Blackstone’s businesses are materially affected by conditions in the financial markets and economic conditions in the U.S., Europe, Asia and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere in the world.

2016 was a year of significant financial market volatility and geopolitical change, including, among other major events, the U.S. presidential election and Brexit. The first six weeks of the year marked one of the worst starts to a year for equities in U.S. history on investor concerns of slowing economic growth and a potential looming recession. The S&P 500 fell 10.5% in the first six weeks of the year while the CBOE volatility index gained 54.5%, reaching a peak of 28. Despite this volatile start, U.S. equities later rallied on signs of improving economic growth, a recovery in oil prices and confidence around stabilization of currency and growth outlook in China. The S&P 500 ended 2016 up 9.5% while the CBOE volatility index declined 22.9%. Equity indices outside the U.S. were mixed, with European and Asian stock indices largely flat on the year (MSCI Europe down 0.5% and MSCI Asia up 1.7%), with a notable exception in the U.K. as the FTSE 100 gained 14.4% on the year despite Brexit.

Currency prices also experienced significant volatility in 2016, with sharp swings in traditionally stable currencies like the U.S. dollar, Euro and British pound. Following Brexit, in late June, the British pound fell dramatically, ending the year down 16.3% against the U.S. dollar. The Euro also weakened against the U.S. dollar

 

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post-Brexit, but rebounded later in the year, ending down 3.2%. In November, the U.S. presidential election results advanced hopes for pro-growth policies and economic expansion, supporting a further strengthening of the U.S. dollar index, which surged to its highest level since 2003.

Turmoil in the oil markets continued in 2016, with prices falling during the first six weeks of the year, with the West Texas Intermediate Crude reaching a low of $26 per barrel in February, and then more than doubling to end the year at $53 per barrel. Price declines, led by resilient production in the U.S. and globally, abundant existing supply and reduced demand from key emerging economies such as China and India, reversed during the first quarter due to spending and production cuts. In November, OPEC nations agreed to cut production in 2017, the first such cut in eight years, further buoying oil prices. Prices for other commodities also increased in 2016, with the Bloomberg commodity index rising 11.4% in 2016, marking its first gain in six years.

Despite the tumultuous start to the year, improving global economic prospects in the U.S. led to rising inflation expectations, higher bond yields and tightening corporate credit spreads during the second half of 2016. In November, the U.S. Federal Reserve, citing higher home prices, low unemployment and improving confidence, raised its targeted range by 25 basis points to 0.75%. Most bond sectors posted positive returns for the year, with the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index up 2.6%, investment grade corporates up 6.1%, and high yield corporates up 17.1%. High yield spreads tightened 281 basis points and issuance, already down significantly in 2015, fell another 9.6% during the year. Global equity capital market activity for both IPOs and follow-ons fell 25% year over year to a four-year low, again driven by declining U.S. and European volumes in the midst of heightened market volatility.

China remained at the forefront as slowing growth and a devaluation of the yuan impacted global equities early in the year. The Shanghai composite fell 22.6% in January, before recovering modestly throughout the year, ending down 12.3%. The People’s Bank of China enacted a number of measures intended to stimulate the economy, including infrastructure spending, easing of property restrictions and auto incentives. The yuan fell 6.7% against the U.S. dollar, the biggest annual decline since 1994. For the full year, China’s GDP grew 6.7%, its slowest pace in 26 years, but within the government’s stated target range of 6.5% to 7%. Continued policy stimulus is expected into 2017 but capital outflows, high levels of debt, geopolitical uncertainties and the potential for continued and additional restrictions on capital outflow from China remain risks to the outlook.

Significant Transactions

On August 31, 2016, Blackstone amended and restated its revolving credit facility to, among other things, increase the amount of the revolving credit facility from $1.1 billion to $1.5 billion and to extend the maturity date of the revolving credit facility from May 29, 2019 to August 31, 2021.

On October 5, 2016, Blackstone issued €600 million in aggregate principal amount of 1.000% senior notes maturing on October 5, 2026.

 

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Organizational Structure

The simplified diagram below depicts our current organizational structure. The diagram does not depict all of our subsidiaries, including intermediate holding companies through which certain of the subsidiaries depicted are held.

 

 

LOGO

Key Financial Measures and Indicators

We manage our business using traditional financial measures and key operating metrics since we believe these metrics measure the productivity of our investment activities. Our key financial measures and indicators are discussed below.

Revenues

Revenues primarily consist of management and advisory fees, performance fees, investment income, interest and dividend revenue and other. Please refer to “Part I. Item 1. Business — Incentive Arrangements / Fee Structure” and “— Critical Accounting Policies — Revenue Recognition” for additional information regarding the manner in which Base Management Fees and Performance Fees are generated.

Management and Advisory Fees, Net — Management and Advisory Fees, Net are comprised of management fees, including base management fees, transaction and other fees and advisory fees net of management fee reductions and offsets.

The Partnership earns base management fees from limited partners of funds in each of its managed funds, at a fixed percentage of assets under management, net asset value, total assets, committed capital or invested capital, or in some cases, a fixed fee. Base management fees are recognized based on contractual terms specified in the underlying investment advisory agreements.

Transaction and other fees (including monitoring fees) are fees charged directly to managed funds and portfolio companies. The investment advisory agreements generally require that the investment adviser reduce the amount of

 

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management fees payable by the limited partners to the Partnership (“management fee reductions”) by an amount equal to a portion of the transaction and other fees directly paid to the Partnership by the portfolio companies. The amount of the reduction varies by fund, the type of fee paid by the portfolio company and the previously incurred expenses of the fund.

Management fee offsets are reductions to management fees payable by the limited partners of the Blackstone Funds, which are granted based on the amount such limited partners reimburse the Blackstone Funds for placement fees.

Advisory fees consist of transaction-based fee arrangements. Transaction-based fees are recognized when (a) there is evidence of an arrangement with a client, (b) agreed upon services have been provided, (c) fees are fixed or determinable, and (d) collection is reasonably assured.

Accrued but unpaid Management and Advisory Fees, net of management fee reductions and management fee offsets, as of the reporting date are included in Accounts Receivable or Due from Affiliates in the Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition. Management fees paid by limited partners to the Blackstone Funds and passed on to Blackstone are not considered affiliate revenues.

Performance Fees — Performance Fees earned on the performance of Blackstone’s hedge fund structures (“Incentive Fees”) are recognized based on fund performance during the period, subject to the achievement of minimum return levels, or high water marks, in accordance with the respective terms set out in each hedge fund’s governing agreements. Accrued but unpaid Incentive Fees charged directly to investors in Blackstone’s offshore hedge funds as of the reporting date are recorded within Due from Affiliates in the Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition. Accrued but unpaid Incentive Fees on onshore funds as of the reporting date are reflected in Investments in the Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition. Incentive Fees are realized at the end of a measurement period, typically annually. Once realized, such fees are not subject to clawback or reversal.

In certain fund structures, specifically in private equity, real estate and certain hedge fund solutions and credit-focused funds (“carry funds”), performance fees (“Carried Interest”) are allocated to the general partner based on cumulative fund performance to date, subject to a preferred return to limited partners. At the end of each reporting period, the Partnership calculates the Carried Interest that would be due to the Partnership for each fund, pursuant to the fund agreements, as if the fair value of the underlying investments were realized as of such date, irrespective of whether such amounts have been realized. As the fair value of underlying investments varies between reporting periods, it is necessary to make adjustments to amounts recorded as Carried Interest to reflect either (a) positive performance resulting in an increase in the Carried Interest allocated to the general partner or (b) negative performance that would cause the amount due to the Partnership to be less than the amount previously recognized as revenue, resulting in a negative adjustment to Carried Interest allocated to the general partner. In each scenario, it is necessary to calculate the Carried Interest on cumulative results compared to the Carried Interest recorded to date and make the required positive or negative adjustments. The Partnership ceases to record negative Carried Interest allocations once previously recognized Carried Interest allocations for such fund have been fully reversed. The Partnership is not obligated to pay guaranteed returns or hurdles, and therefore, cannot have negative Carried Interest over the life of a fund. Accrued but unpaid Carried Interest as of the reporting date is reflected in Investments in the Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition.

Carried Interest is realized when an underlying investment is profitably disposed of and the fund’s cumulative returns are in excess of the preferred return or, in limited instances, after certain thresholds for return of capital are met. Carried Interest is subject to clawback to the extent that the Carried Interest received to date exceeds the amount due to Blackstone based on cumulative results. As such, the accrual for potential repayment of previously received Carried Interest, which is a component of Due to Affiliates, represents all amounts previously distributed to Blackstone Holdings and non-controlling interest holders that would need to be repaid to the Blackstone carry funds if the Blackstone carry funds were to be liquidated based on the current fair value of the underlying funds’ investments as of the reporting date. The actual clawback liability, however, generally does not become realized

 

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until the end of a fund’s life except for certain funds, including certain Blackstone real estate funds, multi-asset class investment funds and credit-focused funds, which may have an interim clawback liability.

Investment Income (Loss) — Investment Income (Loss) represents the unrealized and realized gains and losses on the Partnership’s principal investments, including its investments in Blackstone Funds that are not consolidated, its equity method investments, and other principal investments. Investment Income (Loss) is realized when the Partnership redeems all or a portion of its investment or when the Partnership receives cash income, such as dividends or distributions. Unrealized Investment Income (Loss) results from changes in the fair value of the underlying investment as well as the reversal of unrealized gain (loss) at the time an investment is realized.

Interest and Dividend Revenue — Interest and Dividend Revenue comprises primarily interest and dividend income earned on principal investments held by Blackstone.

Other Revenue — Other Revenue consists of miscellaneous income and foreign exchange gains and losses arising on transactions denominated in currencies other than U.S. dollars.

Expenses

Compensation and Benefits — Compensation — Compensation and Benefits consists of (a) employee compensation, comprising salary and bonus, and benefits paid and payable to employees and senior managing directors and (b) equity-based compensation associated with the grants of equity-based awards to employees and senior managing directors. Compensation cost relating to the issuance of equity-based awards to senior managing directors and employees is measured at fair value at the grant date, taking into consideration expected forfeitures, and expensed over the vesting period on a straight-line basis, except in the case of (a) equity-based awards that do not require future service, which are expensed immediately, and (b) certain awards to recipients that meet specified criteria making them eligible for retirement treatment (allowing such recipient to keep a percentage of those awards upon departure from Blackstone after becoming eligible for retirement), for which the expense for the portion of the award that would be retained in the event of retirement is either expensed immediately or amortized to the retirement date. Cash settled equity-based awards are classified as liabilities and are remeasured at the end of each reporting period.

Compensation and Benefits — Performance Fee — Performance Fee Compensation consists of Carried Interest (which may be distributed in cash or in-kind) and Incentive Fee allocations, and may in future periods also include allocations of investment income from Blackstone’s firm investments, to employees and senior managing directors participating in certain profit sharing initiatives. Such compensation expense is subject to both positive and negative adjustments. Unlike Carried Interest and Incentive Fees, compensation expense is based on the performance of individual investments held by a fund rather than on a fund by fund basis.

Other Operating Expenses — Other Operating Expenses represents general and administrative expenses including interest expense, occupancy and equipment expenses and other expenses, which consist principally of professional fees, public company costs, travel and related expenses, communications and information services and depreciation and amortization.

Fund Expenses — The expenses of our consolidated Blackstone Funds consist primarily of interest expense, professional fees and other third party expenses.

Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities

Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities represent the component of Partners’ Capital in consolidated Blackstone Funds held by third party investors and employees. The percentage interests held by third parties and employees is adjusted for general partner allocations and by subscriptions and redemptions in funds of hedge funds and certain credit-focused funds which occur during the reporting period. In addition, all non-controlling interests in

 

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consolidated Blackstone Funds are attributed a share of income (loss) arising from the respective funds and a share of other comprehensive income, if applicable. Income (Loss) is allocated to non-controlling interests in consolidated entities based on the relative ownership interests of third party investors and employees after considering any contractual arrangements that govern the allocation of income (loss) such as fees allocable to The Blackstone Group L.P.

Redeemable Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities

Non-controlling interests related to funds of hedge funds are subject to annual, semi-annual or quarterly redemption by investors in these funds following the expiration of a specified period of time, or may be withdrawn subject to a redemption fee during the period when capital may not be withdrawn. As limited partners in these types of funds have been granted redemption rights, amounts relating to third party interests in such consolidated funds are presented as Redeemable Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities within the Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition. When redeemable amounts become legally payable to investors, they are classified as a liability and included in Accounts Payable, Accrued Expenses and Other Liabilities in the Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition. For all consolidated funds in which redemption rights have not been granted, non-controlling interests are presented within Partners’ Capital in the Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition as Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities.

Non-Controlling Interests in Blackstone Holdings

Non-Controlling Interests in Blackstone Holdings represent the component of Partners’ Capital in the consolidated Blackstone Holdings Partnerships held by Blackstone personnel and others who are limited partners of the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships.

Certain costs and expenses are borne directly by the Holdings Partnerships. Income (Loss), excluding those costs directly borne by and attributable to the Holdings Partnerships, is attributable to Non-Controlling Interests in Blackstone Holdings. This residual attribution is based on the year to date average percentage of Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units held by Blackstone personnel and others who are limited partners of the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships.

Income Taxes

The Blackstone Holdings Partnerships and certain of their subsidiaries operate in the U.S. as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes and generally as corporate entities in non-U.S. jurisdictions. Accordingly, these entities in some cases are subject to New York City unincorporated business taxes or non-U.S. income taxes. In addition, certain of the wholly owned subsidiaries of the Partnership and the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships will be subject to federal, state and local corporate income taxes at the entity level and the related tax provision attributable to the Partnership’s share of this income tax is reflected in the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Income taxes are accounted for using the asset and liability method of accounting. Under this method, deferred tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the expected future tax consequences of differences between the carrying amounts of assets and liabilities and their respective tax basis, using tax rates in effect for the year in which the differences are expected to reverse. The effect on deferred assets and liabilities of a change in tax rates is recognized in income in the period when the change is enacted. Deferred tax assets are reduced by a valuation allowance when it is more likely than not that some portion or all of the deferred tax assets will not be realized. Current and deferred tax liabilities are recorded within Accounts Payable, Accrued Expenses and Other Liabilities in the Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition.

Blackstone uses the flow-through method to account for investment tax credits. Under this method, the investment tax credits are recognized as a reduction to income tax expense.

 

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Blackstone analyzes its tax filing positions in all of the U.S. federal, state, local and foreign tax jurisdictions where it is required to file income tax returns, as well as for all open tax years in these jurisdictions. Blackstone records uncertain tax positions on the basis of a two-step process: (a) a determination is made whether it is more likely than not that the tax positions will be sustained based on the technical merits of the position and (b) those tax positions that meet the more-likely-than-not threshold are recognized as the largest amount of tax benefit that is greater than 50 percent likely to be realized upon ultimate settlement with the related tax authority. Blackstone recognizes accrued interest and penalties related to uncertain tax positions in General, Administrative, and Other expenses within the Consolidated Statements of Operations.

There remains some uncertainty regarding Blackstone’s future taxation levels. Over the past several years, members of Congress and the administration of former President Obama have made a number of legislative proposals to change the taxation of carried interest that would have, in general, treated income and gains, including gain on sale, attributable to an investment services partnership interest, or “ISPI,” as income subject to a new blended tax rate that is higher than the capital gains rate applicable to such income under current law, except to the extent such ISPI would have been considered under the legislation to be a qualified capital interest. Our common units and the interests that we hold in entities that are entitled to receive carried interest would likely have been classified as ISPIs for purposes of this legislation. During his presidential campaign, President Trump expressed his support for legislation ending treatment of carried interest as capital gain. Whether or when the U.S. Congress will pass such legislation or what provisions will be included in any final legislation if enacted is unclear.

Some of the above legislative proposals have provided that, for taxable years beginning ten years after the date of enactment, income derived with respect to an ISPI that is not a qualified capital interest and that is subject to the foregoing rules would not meet the qualifying income requirements under the publicly traded partnership rules. Therefore, if similar legislation were to be enacted, following such ten-year period, we would be precluded from qualifying as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes or be required to hold all such ISPIs through corporations.

Both President Trump and the Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives have publicly stated that one of their top legislative priorities is significant reform of the Internal Revenue Code, including significant changes to taxation of business entities. Proposals by members of Congress have included, among other things: (a) reducing corporate tax rates (the highest dropping from 35% to 20%) and reducing individual tax rates (the highest dropping from 39.6% to 33%), (b) changing to a destination-based tax system, which would tax goods where they are consumed rather than produced, by providing for certain border adjustments which would effectively exempt exports from, and subject imports to, U.S. tax, (c) changing to a territorial tax system by exempting dividends from foreign subsidiaries from U.S. tax, but subjecting unrepatriated earnings of foreign subsidiaries to U.S. tax, paid over the course of eight years (8.75% on cash and cash equivalent and 3.5% otherwise), (d) allowing deductions for interest expense only against interest income, with any nondeductible net interest expense being carried forward indefinitely, (e) permitting current deductions for investment in tangible and intangible property (excluding land), (f) eliminating certain “special interest” deductions and credits, (g) taxing the active business income of pass-through entities at a maximum rate, such as 25%, (h) repealing the 3.8% net investment income tax and corporate and individual alternative minimum taxes and (i) extending the carryforward of net operating losses. While President Trump has expressed support for a number of these proposals, he has also set forth ideas for tax reform that differ in key ways. Both the timing and the details of any such tax reform are unclear. The impact of any potential tax reform on us, our portfolio companies and our investors is uncertain and could be adverse. Prospective investors should consult their own tax advisors regarding potential changes in tax laws.

States and other jurisdictions have also considered legislation to increase taxes with respect to carried interest. For example, New York has considered legislation, which could have caused a non-resident of New York who holds our common units to be subject to New York state income tax on carried interest earned by entities in which we hold an indirect interest, thereby requiring the non-resident to file a New York state income tax return reporting such carried interest income. Whether or when similar legislation will be enacted is unclear. Finally, several state and local jurisdictions have evaluated ways to subject partnerships to entity level taxation through the imposition of state or local income, franchise or other forms of taxation or to increase the amount of such taxation.

 

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If we were taxed as a corporation or were forced to hold interests in entities earning income from carried interest through taxable subsidiary corporations, our effective tax rate could increase significantly. The federal statutory rate for corporations is currently 35% (although Congress is considering proposals to lower that rate), and the state and local tax rates, net of the federal benefit, aggregate approximately 5%. If a variation of the above described legislation or any other change in the tax laws, rules, regulations or interpretations preclude us from qualifying for treatment as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes under the publicly traded partnership rules or force us to hold interests in entities earning income from carried interest through taxable subsidiary corporations, this could materially increase our tax liability, and could well result in a reduction in the market price of our common units.

Meaningfully quantifying the potential impact on Blackstone of this potential future legislation or any similar legislation is not possible at this time. Multiple versions of legislation in this area have been proposed over the last few years that have included significantly different provisions regarding effective dates and the treatment of invested capital, tiered entities and cross-border operations, among other matters. Depending upon what version of the legislation, if any, were enacted, the potential impact on a public company such as Blackstone in a given year could differ significantly and could be material. In addition, even if these legislative proposals would not themselves impose a tax on a publicly traded partnership such as Blackstone, they could force Blackstone and other publicly traded partnerships to restructure their operations so as to prevent disqualifying income from reaching the publicly traded partnership in amounts that would disqualify the partnership from treatment as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Such a restructuring could result in more income being earned in corporate subsidiaries, thereby increasing corporate income tax liability indirectly borne by the publicly traded partnership. In addition, we, and our common unitholders, could be taxed on any such restructuring. The nature of any such restructuring would depend on the precise provisions of the legislation that was ultimately enacted, as well as the particular facts and circumstances of Blackstone’s operations at the time any such legislation were to take effect, making the task of predicting the amount of additional tax highly speculative.

Congress, the OECD and other government agencies in jurisdictions in which we and our affiliates invest or do business have maintained a focus on issues related to the taxation of multinational companies. The OECD, which represents a coalition of member countries, is contemplating changes to numerous long-standing tax principles through its base erosion and profit shifting project, which is focused on a number of issues, including the shifting of profits between affiliated entities in different tax jurisdictions, interest deductibility and eligibility for the benefits of double tax treaties. A number of European jurisdictions have enacted taxes on financial transactions, and the European Commission has proposed legislation to harmonize these taxes under the so-called “enhanced cooperation procedure,” which provides for adoption of EU-level legislation applicable to some but not all EU Member States. These contemplated changes, if adopted by individual countries, could increase tax uncertainty and/or costs faced by us, our portfolio companies and our investors, change our business model and cause other adverse consequences. The timing or impact of these proposals is unclear at this point. In addition, tax laws, regulations and interpretations are subject to continual changes, which could adversely affect our structures or returns to our investors. For instance, various countries have adopted or proposed tax legislation that may adversely affect portfolio companies and investment structures in countries in which our funds have invested and may limit the benefits of additional investments in those countries.

In addition, legislation enacted in 2015 significantly changed the rules for U.S. federal income tax audits of partnerships. Such audits will continue to be conducted at the partnership level, but with respect to tax returns for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, and unless a partnership qualifies for and affirmatively elects an alternative procedure, any adjustments to the amount of tax due (including interest and penalties) will be payable by the partnership. Under the elective alternative procedure, a partnership would issue information returns to persons who were partners in the audited year, who would then be required to take the adjustments into account in calculating their own tax liability, and the partnership would not be liable for the adjustments. If a partnership elects the alternative procedure for a given adjustment, the amount of taxes for which its partners would be liable would be increased by any applicable penalties and a special interest charge. There can be no assurance that we will be eligible to make such an election or that we will, in fact, make such an election for any given adjustment. If we do

 

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not or are not able to make such an election, then (a) our then-current common unitholders, in the aggregate, could indirectly bear income tax liabilities in excess of the aggregate amount of taxes that would have been due had we elected the alternative procedure, and (b) a given common unitholder may indirectly bear taxes attributable to income allocable to other common unitholders or former common unitholders, including taxes (as well as interest and penalties) with respect to periods prior to such holder’s ownership of common units. Amounts available for distribution to our common unitholders may be reduced as a result of our obligation to pay any taxes associated with an adjustment. Many issues with respect to, and the overall effect of, this legislation on us are uncertain, and common unitholders should consult their own tax advisors regarding all aspects of this legislation as it affects their particular circumstances.

Economic Income

Blackstone uses Economic Income (“EI”) as a key measure of value creation, a benchmark of its performance and in making resource deployment and compensation decisions across its four segments. EI represents segment net income before taxes excluding transaction-related charges. Transaction-related charges arise from Blackstone’s IPO and long-term retention programs outside of annual deferred compensation and other corporate actions, including acquisitions. Transaction-related charges include equity-based compensation charges, the amortization of intangible assets and contingent consideration associated with acquisitions. EI presents revenues and expenses on a basis that deconsolidates the investment funds Blackstone manages. Economic Net Income (“ENI”) represents EI adjusted to include current period taxes. Taxes represent the total tax provision calculated under GAAP adjusted to include only the current tax provision (benefit) calculated on Income (Loss) Before Provision for Taxes. EI, our principal segment measure, is derived from and reconciled to, but not equivalent to, its most directly comparable GAAP measure of Income (Loss) Before Provision for Taxes. (See Note 21. “Segment Reporting” in the “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” in “— Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data”.)

Fee Related Earnings

Blackstone uses Fee Related Earnings (“FRE”), which is derived from EI, as a measure to highlight earnings from operations excluding: (a) the income related to performance fees and related performance fee compensation, (b) income earned from Blackstone’s investments in the Blackstone Funds, and (c) net interest income (loss). Management uses FRE as a measure to assess whether recurring revenue from our businesses is sufficient to adequately cover all of our operating expenses and generate profits. FRE equals contractual fee revenues, less (a) compensation expenses (which includes amortization of non-IPO and non-acquisition-related equity-based awards, but excludes amortization of IPO and acquisition-related equity-based awards, carried interest and incentive fee compensation) and (b) non-interest operating expenses. See “— Liquidity and Capital Resources — Sources and Uses of Liquidity” below for our discussion of FRE.

Distributable Earnings

Distributable Earnings, which is derived from our segment reported results, is a supplemental measure to assess performance and amounts available for distributions to Blackstone unitholders, including Blackstone personnel and others who are limited partners of the Blackstone Holdings Partnerships. Distributable Earnings, which is a measure not prepared under GAAP (a “non-GAAP” measure), is intended to show the amount of net realized earnings without the effects of the consolidation of the Blackstone Funds. Distributable Earnings is derived from and reconciled to, but not equivalent to, its most directly comparable GAAP measure of Income (Loss) Before Provision for Taxes. See “— Liquidity and Capital Resources — Sources and Uses of Liquidity” below for our discussion of Distributable Earnings.

Distributable Earnings, which is a component of Economic Net Income, is the sum across all segments of: (a) Total Management and Advisory Fees, (b) Interest and Dividend Revenue, (c) Other Revenue, (d) Realized Performance Fees, and (e) Realized Investment Income (Loss); less (a) Compensation, excluding the expense of equity-based awards, (b) Realized Performance Fee Compensation, (c) Other Operating Expenses, and (d) Taxes and Related Payables Under the Tax Receivable Agreement.

 

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Adjusted Earnings Before Interest, Taxes and Depreciation and Amortization

Adjusted Earnings Before Interest, Taxes and Depreciation and Amortization (“Adjusted EBITDA”), is a supplemental non-GAAP measure derived from our segment reported results and may be used to assess our ability to service our borrowings. Adjusted EBITDA represents Distributable Earnings plus the addition of (a) Interest Expense, (b) Taxes and Related Payables Including Payable Under Tax Receivable Agreement, and (c) Depreciation and Amortization. See “— Liquidity and Capital Resources — Sources and Uses of Liquidity” below for our calculation of Adjusted EBITDA.

Summary Walkdown of GAAP to Non-GAAP Financial Metrics

The relationship of our GAAP to non-GAAP financial measures is presented in the summary walkdown below. The summary walkdown shows how each non-GAAP financial measure is related to the other non-GAAP financial measures. This presentation is not meant to be a detailed calculation of each measure, but to show the relationship between the measures. For the calculation of each of these non-GAAP financial measures and a full reconciliation of Income Before Provision for Taxes to Distributable Earnings, please see “— Liquidity and Capital Resources — Sources and Uses of Liquidity.”

 

 

LOGO

 

2016 2015 2014 (Dollars in Millions) GAAP Income Before Provision for Taxes $2,382 $1,815 $3,987 + Transaction-Related Charges + Amortization of Intangibles - (Income) Associated with Non-Controlling Interests of Consolidating Entities Economic Income “EI” = Economic Income $2,481 $2,178 $4,544 - Performance Fee Adjustment - Investment (Income) Loss Adjustment + Net Interest Loss + Performance Fee Compensation and Benefit Adjustment Fee Related Earnings “FRE” = Fee Related Earnings $1,003 $936 $1,003 + Net Realized Performance Fees + Realized Investment Income - Net Interest (Loss) - Taxes and Related Payables Including Payable Under Tax Receivable Agreement + Equity-Based Compensation Distributable Earnings “DE” $2,176 $3,844 $3,064 = Distributable Earnings

 

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Operating Metrics

The alternative asset management business is a complex business that is primarily based on managing third party capital and does not require substantial capital investment to support rapid growth. However, there also can be volatility associated with its earnings and cash flows. Since our inception, we have developed and used various key operating metrics to assess and monitor the operating performance of our various alternative asset management businesses in order to monitor the effectiveness of our value creating strategies.

Assets Under Management. Assets Under Management refers to the assets we manage. Our Assets Under Management equals the sum of:

 

  (a) the fair value of the investments held by our carry funds and our side-by-side and co-investment entities managed by us, plus the capital that we are entitled to call from investors in those funds and entities pursuant to the terms of their respective capital commitments, including capital commitments to funds that have yet to commence their investment periods, plus for certain credit-oriented funds the amounts available to be borrowed under asset based credit facilities,

 

  (b) the net asset value of our funds of hedge funds, hedge funds, real estate debt carry funds (plus the capital that we are entitled to call from investors in those funds), open ended core+ real estate fund, our Hedge Fund Solutions registered investment companies, and our non-exchange traded REIT,

 

  (c) the invested capital, fair value or net asset value of assets we manage pursuant to separately managed accounts,

 

  (d) the amount of debt and equity outstanding for our CLOs during the reinvestment period,

 

  (e) the aggregate par amount of collateral assets, including principal cash, for our CLOs after the reinvestment period,

 

  (f) the gross or net amount of assets (including leverage where applicable) for our credit-focused registered investment companies, and

 

  (g) the fair value of common stock, preferred stock, convertible debt, or similar instruments issued by BXMT.

Our carry funds are commitment-based drawdown structured funds that do not permit investors to redeem their interests at their election. Our funds of hedge funds, hedge funds and funds structured like hedge funds in our Hedge Fund Solutions, Credit and Real Estate segments generally have structures that afford an investor the right to withdraw or redeem their interests on a periodic basis (for example, annually or quarterly), typically with 30 to 95 days’ notice, depending on the fund and the liquidity profile of the underlying assets. Investment advisory agreements related to certain separately managed accounts in our Hedge Fund Solutions and Credit segments may generally be terminated by an investor on 30 to 90 days’ notice.

Fee-Earning Assets Under Management. Fee-Earning Assets Under Management refers to the assets we manage on which we derive management and/or performance fees. Our Fee-Earning Assets Under Management equals the sum of:

 

  (a) for our Private Equity segment funds and Real Estate segment carry funds including certain real estate debt investment funds and certain of our Hedge Fund Solutions funds, the amount of capital commitments, remaining invested capital, fair value or par value of assets held, depending on the fee terms of the fund,

 

  (b) for our credit-focused carry funds, the amount of remaining invested capital (which may include leverage) or net asset value, depending on the fee terms of the fund,

 

  (c) the remaining invested capital or fair value of assets held in co-investment vehicles managed by us on which we receive fees,

 

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  (d) the net asset value of our funds of hedge funds, hedge funds, open ended core+ real estate fund, co-investments managed by us on which we receive fees, certain registered investment companies, and our non-exchange traded REIT,

 

  (e) the invested capital, fair value of assets or the net asset value we manage pursuant to separately managed accounts,

 

  (f) the net proceeds received from equity offerings and accumulated core earnings of BXMT, subject to certain adjustments,

 

  (g) the aggregate par amount of collateral assets, including principal cash, of our CLOs, and

 

  (h) the gross amount of assets (including leverage) or the net assets (plus leverage where applicable) for certain of our credit-focused registered investment companies.

Each of our segments may include certain Fee-Earning Assets Under Management on which we earn performance fees but not management fees.

Our calculations of assets under management and fee-earning assets under management may differ from the calculations of other asset managers, and as a result this measure may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other asset managers. In addition, our calculation of assets under management includes commitments to, and the fair value of, invested capital in our funds from Blackstone and our personnel, regardless of whether such commitments or invested capital are subject to fees. Our definitions of assets under management and fee-earning assets under management are not based on any definition of assets under management and fee-earning assets under management that is set forth in the agreements governing the investment funds that we manage.

For our carry funds, total assets under management includes the fair value of the investments held, whereas fee-earning assets under management includes the amount of capital commitments, the remaining amount of invested capital at cost depending on whether the investment period has or has not expired or the fee terms of the fund. As such, fee-earning assets under management may be greater than total assets under management when the aggregate fair value of the remaining investments is less than the cost of those investments.

Limited Partner Capital Invested. Limited Partner Capital Invested represents the amount of Limited Partner capital commitments which were invested by our carry and drawdown funds during each period presented, plus the capital invested through co-investments arranged by us that were made by limited partners in investments of our carry funds on which we receive fees or a Carried Interest allocation or Incentive Fee.

The amount of committed undrawn capital available for investment, including general partner and employee commitments, is known as dry powder and is an indicator of the capital we have available for future investments.

 

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Consolidated Results of Operations

Following is a discussion of our consolidated results of operations for each of the years in the three year period ended December 31, 2016. For a more detailed discussion of the factors that affected the results of our four business segments (which are presented on a basis that deconsolidates the investment funds we manage) in these periods, see “— Segment Analysis” below.

The following table sets forth information regarding our consolidated results of operations and certain key operating metrics for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014:

 

    Year Ended December 31,     2016 vs. 2015     2015 vs. 2014  
    2016     2015     2014     $     %     $     %  
    (Dollars in Thousands)  

Revenues

             

Management and Advisory Fees, Net

  $ 2,442,975     $ 2,542,505     $ 2,497,252     $ (99,530     -4   $ 45,253       2
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Performance Fees

             

Realized

             

Carried Interest

    1,474,830       3,205,290       2,450,082       (1,730,460     -54     755,208       31

Incentive Fees

    170,537       193,238       249,005       (22,701     -12     (55,767     -22

Unrealized

             

Carried Interest

    481,304       (1,595,174     1,704,924       2,076,478       N/M       (3,300,098     N/M  

Incentive Fees

    49,660       (6,688     (29,749     56,348       N/M       23,061       -78
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Performance Fees

    2,176,331       1,796,666       4,374,262       379,665       21     (2,577,596     -59
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Investment Income (Loss)

             

Realized

    278,737       555,171       523,735       (276,434     -50     31,436       6

Unrealized

    77,314       (350,529     10,265       427,843       N/M       (360,794     N/M  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Investment Income

    356,051       204,642       534,000       151,409       74     (329,358     -62
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Interest and Dividend Revenue

    95,724       94,957       69,809       767       1     25,148       36

Other

    54,753       7,782       9,405       46,971       604     (1,623     -17
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Revenues

    5,125,834       4,646,552       7,484,728       479,282       10     (2,838,176     -38
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Expenses

             

Compensation and Benefits

             

Compensation

    1,335,408       1,726,191       1,868,868       (390,783     -23     (142,677     -8

Performance Fee Compensation

             

Realized

             

Carried Interest

    455,954       793,801       815,643       (337,847     -43     (21,842     -3

Incentive Fees

    78,096       85,945       110,099       (7,849     -9     (24,154     -22

Unrealized

             

Carried Interest

    312,838       (312,696     379,037       625,534       N/M       (691,733     N/M  

Incentive Fees

    21,134       (2,490     (19,276     23,624       N/M       16,786       -87
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Compensation and Benefits

    2,203,430       2,290,751       3,154,371       (87,321     -4     (863,620     -27

General, Administrative and Other

    520,309       576,103       549,463       (55,794     -10     26,640       5

Interest Expense

    152,654       144,522       121,524       8,132       6     22,998       19

Fund Expenses

    52,181       79,499       30,498       (27,318     -34     49,001       161
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Expenses

    2,928,574       3,090,875       3,855,856       (162,301     -5     (764,981     -20
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Other Income

             

Reversal of Tax Receivable Agreement Liability

    —         82,707       —         (82,707     -100     82,707       N/M  

Net Gains from Fund Investment Activities

    184,750       176,364       357,854       8,386       5     (181,490     -51
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Other Income

    184,750       259,071       357,854       (74,321     -29     (98,783     -28
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income Before Provision for Taxes

    2,382,010       1,814,748       3,986,726       567,262       31     (2,171,978     -54

Provision for Taxes

    132,362       190,398       291,173       (58,036     -30     (100,775     -35
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Income

    2,249,648       1,624,350       3,695,553       625,298       38     (2,071,203     -56

Net Income Attributable to Redeemable Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities

    3,977       11,145       74,794       (7,168     -64     (63,649     -85

Net Income Attributable to Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities

    246,152       219,900       335,070       26,252       12     (115,170     -34

Net Income Attributable to Non-Controlling Interests in Blackstone Holdings

    960,284       683,516       1,701,100       276,768       40     (1,017,584     -60
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Income Attributable to The Blackstone Group L.P.

  $ 1,039,235     $ 709,789     $ 1,584,589     $ 329,446       46   $ (874,800     -55
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

N/M Not meaningful.

 

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Year Ended December 31, 2016 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2015

Revenues

Total Revenues were $5.1 billion for the year ended December 31, 2016, an increase of $479.3 million, or 10%, compared to $4.6 billion for the year ended December 31, 2015. The increase was primarily attributable to increases in Performance Fees and Investment Income of $379.7 million and $151.4 million, respectively, partially offset by a decrease in Management and Advisory Fees, Net of $99.5 million.

Performance Fees, which are determined on a fund by fund basis, were $2.2 billion for the year ended December 31, 2016, an increase of $379.7 million compared to $1.8 billion for the year ended December 31, 2015. The increase in Performance Fees was primarily due to increases in our Credit and Real Estate segments of $356.1 million and $129.5 million, respectively. These increases were partially offset by a decrease in our Private Equity segment of $87.0 million. Performance Fees increased in our Credit segment due to a significant rebound in energy investments as well as broad based appreciation of funds. The composite net returns of Blackstone’s significant Credit segment funds for the year ended December 31, 2016 were 13.3% for Distressed Strategies and 16.7% for Performing Credit Strategies. The increase in Performance Fees in our Real Estate segment was primarily due to a year over year increase in the net appreciation of investment holdings in our real estate opportunistic funds, which appreciated 11.1%, compared to 9.7% in the prior period. Our core+ real estate funds, real estate debt drawdown and hedge funds appreciated 10.9%, 11.7% and 0.3%, respectively. The decrease in our Private Equity segment was principally due to lower appreciation in BCP V compared to 2015, partially offset by greater appreciation in our BCP VI and BCP IV funds.

Investment Income was $356.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2016, an increase of $151.4 million compared to $204.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2015. The increase in Investment Income was primarily due to an increase in our Real Estate segment of $117.9 million. The increase in our Real Estate segment was primarily due to the net appreciation of investments in BREP VI, in which the general partner has made a larger commitment than in other real estate funds.

Management and Advisory Fees, Net was $2.4 billion for the year ended December 31, 2016, a decrease of $99.5 million compared to $2.5 billion for the year ended December 31, 2015. The decrease in Management and Advisory Fees, Net was primarily due to the spin-off of the operations of our financial advisory business, partially offset by increases in our Real Estate, Private Equity and Credit segments of $130.9 million, $48.5 million and $18.5 million, respectively. The increase in our Real Estate segment was principally due to increased commitments in BREP VIII and an increase in invested capital in BPP, partially offset by realizations across the portfolio. The increase in our Private Equity segment was primarily due to the addition of Fee-Earning Assets Under Management across the segment. The increase in our Credit segment was primarily attributable to the growth in Fee-Earning Assets Under Management for our credit drawdown funds and our BDCs.

Expenses

Expenses were $2.9 billion for the year ended December 31, 2016, a decrease of $162.3 million compared to $3.1 billion for the year ended December 31, 2015. The decrease was primarily attributable to decreases in Compensation, General, Administrative and Other, and Fund Expenses of $390.8 million, $55.8 million and $27.3 million, respectively, partially offset by an increase in Performance Fee Compensation of $303.5 million. The decrease in Compensation was due to lower equity-based compensation expense related to awards granted in connection with Blackstone’s IPO which were fully vested and expensed as of June 30, 2015 as well as the departure of employees due to the October 1, 2015 spin-off of our financial advisory business. The decrease in General, Administrative and Other was primarily due to the spin-off of our financial advisory business and non-recurring costs incurred in 2015 related to the SEC settlement. The decrease in Fund Expenses was primarily attributable to our Credit segment as a result of a decrease in certain CLO-related expenses. Performance Fee Compensation is derived from Performance Fee Revenue. The increase in Performance Fee Compensation was due to the increase in Performance Fees Revenue.

 

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Year Ended December 31, 2015 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2014

Revenues

Total Revenues were $4.6 billion for the year ended December 31, 2015, a decrease of $2.8 billion, or 38%, compared to $7.5 billion for the year ended December 31, 2014. The decrease was primarily attributable to decreases in Performance Fees and Investment Income of $2.6 billion and $329.4 million, respectively.

Performance Fees, which are determined on a fund by fund basis, were $1.8 billion for the year ended December 31, 2015, a decrease of $2.6 billion compared to $4.4 billion for the year ended December 31, 2014. The decrease in Performance Fees was primarily due to decreases in our Private Equity, Real Estate, and Credit segments of $1.2 billion, $1.0 billion and $270.4 million, respectively. The decrease in our Private Equity segment was principally due to lower net returns in our corporate private equity portfolio, despite overall solid net performance. Performance Fees in our Real Estate segment decreased due to a year over year decrease in the net appreciation of investments in our real estate opportunistic funds from 20.9% to 9.7%. For the year ended December 31, 2015, the increase in carrying value of assets for Blackstone’s contributed real estate opportunistic funds was driven by sustained strong operating fundamentals in the private portfolio resulting in appreciation of 16.6%, offset by public portfolio depreciation of 8.6%, particularly in lodging. Performance Fees decreased in our Credit segment due to our energy investments, overall declines in the credit market, underperformance in certain event-driven assets and technical pressure caused by year end selling.

Investment Income was $204.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2015, a decrease of $329.4 million compared to $534.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2014. The decrease in Investment Income was primarily due to decreases in our Real Estate and Private Equity segments of $246.5 million and $105.5 million, respectively. The decrease in our Real Estate segment was primarily due to a year over year net depreciation of investments in BREP VI, in which the general partner has made a larger commitment than in other real estate funds. The decrease in our Private Equity segment was driven by our BCP V and BCP VI funds which generated strong net returns of 8.1% and 7.9%, respectively, for the year but were slightly lower than the returns generated in the full year 2014 mainly as a result of the lower returns in our public portfolio and certain investment markdowns in energy.

Expenses

Expenses were $3.1 billion for the year ended December 31, 2015, a decrease of $765.0 million compared to $3.9 billion for the year ended December 31, 2014. The decrease was primarily attributable to decreases in Performance Fee Compensation and Compensation of $720.9 million and $142.7 million, respectively, partially offset by increases of $49.0 million and $23.0 million in Fund Expenses and Interest Expense, respectively. Performance Fee Compensation is derived from Performance Fee Revenue. The decrease in Performance Fee Compensation was due to the decrease in Performance Fee Revenue. The decrease in Compensation was primarily due to lower equity-based compensation expense related to awards granted in connection with Blackstone’s IPO, which were fully vested and expensed as of June 30, 2015 and an overall decrease in headcount driven by the October 1, 2015 spin-off of our financial advisory business. The decrease was partially offset by an increase in equity-based amortization charges due to the 2014 change in terms of Deferred Compensation Plan awards which require future service and are therefore expensed over the service period. The increase in General, Administrative and Other was primarily due to transactional charges associated with the spin-off, non-recurring costs related to the SEC settlement, occupancy increases and business development costs. Due to the spin-off, partially offsetting these increases was a reduction in expenses directly incurred by the financial advisory business. The $23.0 million increase in interest expense was primarily related to Blackstone’s issuance of senior notes in the second quarter of 2015. The increase in Fund Expenses primarily occurred in our Credit segment, where it was attributable to newly launched CLOs and an increase in other expenses.

 

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Other Income

Year Ended December 31, 2016 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2015

Other Income was $184.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2016, a decrease of $74.3 million compared to $259.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2015. The decrease was primarily due to the absence of the Reversal of Tax Receivable Agreement Liability of $82.7 million that was recognized during the year ended December 31, 2015 in connection with the spin-off of our financial advisory business in October 2015. The reversal occurred when we recalculated our liability under the tax receivable agreements as a result of the spin-off of our financial advisory business.

Year Ended December 31, 2015 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2014

Other Income was $259.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2015, a decrease of $98.8 million compared to $357.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2014. The decrease was due to a decrease in Net Gains from Fund Investment Activities of $181.5 million, partially offset by an increase due to a Reversal of Tax Receivable Agreement Liability of $82.7 million in connection with the spin-off of our financial advisory business in October 2015. The reversal occurred when we recalculated our liability under the tax receivable agreements as a result of the spin-off of our financial advisory business.

Other Income — Net Gains from Fund Investment Activities was $176.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2015, a decrease of $181.5 million compared to $357.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2014. This decrease was primarily comprised of decreases in our Real Estate, Hedge Fund Solutions and Private Equity segments of $148.3 million, $73.8 million and $62.0 million, respectively, partially offset by an increase of $102.7 million in our Credit segment. The Real Estate decrease was primarily the result of the deconsolidation of certain funds as well as a year over year net decreases in the appreciation of investments across our funds. The decrease in our Hedge Fund Solutions segment was primarily the result of a decrease in investment performance and the deconsolidation of a number of funds. The decrease in our Private Equity segment was primarily due to the lower unrealized gains compared to the same period in 2014. The increase in our Credit segment was primarily due to lower valuations on the liabilities of certain consolidated CLO vehicles, which led to increases in unrealized gains.

For the year ended December 31, 2015, there was a Reversal of Tax Receivable Agreement Liability resulting in an increase of $82.7 million.

Provision for Taxes

The following table summarizes Blackstone’s tax position:

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
     2016     2015     2014  

Income Before Provision for Taxes

   $ 2,382,010     $ 1,814,748     $ 3,986,726  

Provision for Taxes

   $ 132,362     $ 190,398     $ 291,173  

Effective Income Tax Rate

     5.6     10.5     7.3

The following table reconciles the effective income tax rate to the U.S. federal statutory tax rate:

 

      Year Ended December 31,     2016  vs.
2015
    2015  vs.
2014
 
     2016     2015     2014      

Statutory U.S. Federal Income Tax Rate

     35.0     35.0     35.0     —         —    

Income Passed Through to Common Unitholders and Non-Controlling Interest Holders (a)

     -28.6     -26.3     -29.2     -2.3     2.9

State and Local Income Taxes

     1.3     1.8     1.5     -0.5     0.3

Equity-Based Compensation

     -0.2     1.8     1.1     -2.0     0.7

Other

     -1.9     -1.8     -1.1     -0.1     -0.7
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Effective Income Tax Rate

     5.6     10.5     7.3     -4.9     3.2
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

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(a) Includes income that is not taxable to the Partnership and its subsidiaries. Such income is directly taxable to the Partnership’s unitholders and the non-controlling interest holders.

Blackstone’s Provision for Taxes for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014 was $132.4 million, $190.4 million and $291.2 million, respectively. This resulted in an effective tax rate of 5.6%, 10.5% and 7.3%, respectively, based on our Income Before Provision for Taxes of $2.4 billion, $1.8 billion and $4.0 billion, respectively.

The difference in Blackstone’s effective tax rate for the year ended December 31, 2016 compared to the year ended December 31, 2015 resulted primarily from two items. First, the Income Before Provision for Taxes that was not taxable to the Partnership or its subsidiaries (and therefore was passed through to common unitholders and non-controlling interest holders) was $1.9 billion in 2016 (of $2.4 billion of 2016 total pretax income), compared to $1.4 billion in 2015 (of $1.8 billion of 2015 total pretax income). Second, in 2016, the tax deductible equity-based compensation expense exceeded the book equity-based compensation expense, while the reverse occurred in 2014.

The difference in Blackstone’s effective tax rate for the year ended December 31, 2015 compared to the year ended December 31, 2014 period resulted primarily from one item: the Income Before Provision for Taxes that was not taxable to the Partnership or its subsidiaries (and therefore was passed through to common unitholders and non-controlling interest holders) was $1.4 billion in 2015 (of $1.8 billion of 2015 total pretax income), compared to $3.3 billion in 2014 (of $4.0 billion of total pretax income).

All factors except for the reversal of the deferred tax asset are expected to impact the effective tax rate for future years.

Additional information regarding our income taxes can be found in Note 14. “Income Taxes” in the “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” in “— Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this filing.

Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities

The Net Income Attributable to Redeemable Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities and Net Income Attributable to Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities is attributable to the consolidated Blackstone Funds. The amounts of these items vary directly with the performance of the consolidated Blackstone Funds and largely eliminate the amount of Other Income — Net Gains from Fund Investment Activities from the Net Income (Loss) Attributable to The Blackstone Group L.P.

Net Income Attributable to Non-Controlling Interests in Blackstone Holdings is derived from the Income Before Provision for Taxes, excluding the Net Gains from Fund Investment Activities and the percentage allocation of the income between Blackstone Holdings and The Blackstone Group L.P. after considering any contractual arrangements that govern the allocation of income (loss) such as fees allocable to The Blackstone Group L.P.

For the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014, the Net Income Before Taxes allocated to Blackstone Holdings was 46.1%, 47.0% and 47.9%, respectively. The decreases of 0.9% and 0.9% were primarily due to conversions of Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units to Blackstone common units and the vesting of common units.

The Other Income — Reversal of Tax Receivable Agreement Liability was entirely allocated to The Blackstone Group L.P.

Operating Metrics

The following graphs and tables summarize the Fee-Earning Assets Under Management by Segment and Total Assets Under Management by Segment, followed by a rollforward of activity for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014. For a description of how Assets Under Management and Fee-Earning Assets Under

 

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Management are determined, please see “— Key Financial Measures and Indicators — Operating Metrics — Assets Under Management and Fee-Earning Assets Under Management.”

 

LOGO

 

Note:    Totals may not add due to rounding.

 

Assets Under Management by Segment (Dollars in Billions) Fee-Earning Total

 

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    Year Ended December 31,  
    2016     2015  
    Private
Equity
    Real Estate     Hedge Fund
Solutions
    Credit     Total     Private
Equity
    Real Estate     Hedge Fund
Solutions
    Credit     Total  
    (Dollars in Thousands)  

Fee-Earning Assets Under Management

                   

Balance, Beginning of Period

  $ 51,451,196     $ 67,345,357     $ 65,665,439     $ 61,684,380     $ 246,146,372     $ 43,890,167     $ 52,563,068     $ 61,417,558     $ 58,821,006     $ 216,691,799  

Inflows, including Commitments (a)

    28,917,902       14,230,164       10,132,407       15,045,180       68,325,653       13,882,257       27,698,203       9,667,274       17,310,414       68,558,148  

Outflows, including Distributions (b)

    (3,154,420     (2,180,183     (9,744,077     (4,756,725     (19,835,405     (1,395,020     (4,165,520     (5,430,094     (5,711,573     (16,702,207

Realizations (c)

    (8,193,322     (8,019,202     (416,583     (5,818,135     (22,447,242     (5,106,650     (8,513,771     (516,619     (6,318,060     (20,455,100
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Inflows (Outflows)

    17,570,160       4,030,779       (28,253     4,470,320       26,043,006       7,380,587       15,018,912       3,720,561       5,280,781       31,400,841  

Market Appreciation (Depreciation) (d)(g)

    92,053       653,918       1,350,367       2,806,956       4,903,294       180,442       (236,623     527,320       (2,417,407     (1,946,268
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Balance, End of Period (e)

  $ 69,113,409     $ 72,030,054     $ 66,987,553     $ 68,961,656     $ 277,092,672     $ 51,451,196     $ 67,345,357     $ 65,665,439     $ 61,684,380     $ 246,146,372  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Increase

  $ 17,662,213     $ 4,684,697     $ 1,322,114     $ 7,277,276     $ 30,946,300     $ 7,561,029     $ 14,782,289     $ 4,247,881     $ 2,863,374     $ 29,454,573  

Increase

    34     7     2     12     13     17     28     7     5     14

Annualized Base Management Fee Rate (f)

    0.93     1.09     0.78     0.79     0.90     1.12     1.19     0.79     0.82     0.97

 

    Year Ended December 31,  
    2014  
    Private
Equity
    Real Estate     Hedge Fund
Solutions
    Credit     Total  
    (Dollars in Thousands)  

Fee-Earning Assets Under Management

         

Balance, Beginning of Period

  $ 42,600,515     $ 50,792,803     $ 52,865,837     $ 51,722,584     $ 197,981,739  

Inflows, including Commitments (a)

    6,757,450       11,536,435       12,021,209       19,845,686       50,160,780  

Outflows, including Distributions (b)

    (1,124,355     (295,067     (5,362,968     (3,458,712     (10,241,102

Realizations (c)

    (4,733,564     (8,719,534     (312,486     (7,897,115     (21,662,699
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Inflows

    899,531       2,521,834       6,345,755       8,489,859       18,256,979  

Market Appreciation
(Depreciation) (d)(g)

    390,121       (751,569     2,205,966       (1,391,437     453,081  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Balance, End of Period (e)

  $ 43,890,167     $ 52,563,068     $ 61,417,558     $ 58,821,006     $ 216,691,799  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Increase

  $ 1,289,652     $ 1,770,265     $ 8,551,721     $ 7,098,422     $ 18,710,060  

Increase

    3     3     16     14     9

Annualized Base Management Fee Rate (f)

    0.96     1.19     0.81     0.83     0.94

 

97


Table of Contents
    Year Ended December 31,  
    2016     2015  
    Private
Equity
    Real Estate     Hedge Fund
Solutions
    Credit     Total     Private
Equity
    Real Estate     Hedge Fund
Solutions
    Credit     Total  
    (Dollars in Thousands)  

Total Assets Under Management

                   

Balance, Beginning of Period

  $ 94,280,074     $ 93,917,824     $ 69,105,425     $ 79,081,252     $ 336,384,575     $ 73,073,252     $ 80,863,187     $ 63,585,670     $ 72,858,960     $ 290,381,069  

Inflows, including Commitments (a)

    16,867,638       19,047,473       10,782,839       22,962,825       69,660,775       30,034,911       29,473,697       11,040,950       23,035,118       93,584,676  

Outflows, including Distributions (b)

    (1,544,928     (500,727     (9,871,709     (6,514,437     (18,431,801     (406,955     (342,233     (5,559,483     (6,372,790     (12,681,461

Realizations (c)

    (14,221,866     (17,926,238     (436,973     (6,673,833     (39,258,910     (13,493,163     (21,016,540     (554,584     (7,605,824     (42,670,111
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Inflows

    1,100,844       620,508       474,157       9,774,555       11,970,064       16,134,793       8,114,924       4,926,883       9,056,504       38,233,104  

Market Appreciation
(Depreciation) (d)(h)

    4,812,032       7,425,320       1,540,136       4,421,338       18,198,826       5,072,029       4,939,713       592,872       (2,834,212     7,770,402  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Balance, End of Period (e)

  $ 100,192,950     $ 101,963,652     $ 71,119,718     $ 93,277,145     $ 366,553,465     $ 94,280,074     $ 93,917,824     $ 69,105,425     $ 79,081,252     $ 336,384,575  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Increase

  $ 5,912,876     $ 8,045,828     $ 2,014,293     $ 14,195,893     $ 30,168,890     $ 21,206,822     $ 13,054,637     $ 5,519,755     $ 6,222,292     $ 46,003,506  

Increase

    6     9     3     18     9     29     16     9     9     16

 

    Year Ended December 31,  
    2014  
    Private
Equity
    Real Estate     Hedge Fund
Solutions
    Credit     Total  
    (Dollars in Thousands)  

Total Assets Under Management

         

Balance, Beginning of Period

  $ 65,675,031     $ 79,410,788     $ 55,657,463     $ 65,014,348     $ 265,757,630  

Inflows, including Commitments (a)

    13,677,363       11,080,384       11,428,764       21,072,694       57,259,205  

Outflows, including Distributions (b)

    (1,624,064     (896,394     (5,430,780     (3,763,200     (11,714,438

Realizations (c)

    (15,379,066     (20,389,808     (416,882     (9,301,444     (45,487,200
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Inflows (Outflows)

    (3,325,767     (10,205,818     5,581,102       8,008,050       57,567  

Market Appreciation (Depreciation) (d)(h)

    10,723,988       11,658,217       2,347,105       (163,438     24,565,872  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Balance, End of Period (e)

  $ 73,073,252     $ 80,863,187     $ 63,585,670     $ 72,858,960     $ 290,381,069  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Increase

  $ 7,398,221     $ 1,452,399     $ 7,928,207     $ 7,844,612     $ 24,623,439  

Increase