10-K 1 d663205d10k.htm 10-K 10-K
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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, 2018

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 every Interactive Data File required to be submitted 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 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, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer  ☒

   Accelerated filer  ☐

Non-accelerated filer  ☐

   Smaller reporting company  ☐
   Emerging growth company  ☐

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  ☐

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 29, 2018 was approximately $21.3 billion.

The number of the Registrant’s voting common units representing limited partner interests outstanding as of February 22, 2019 was 658,590,547.

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

     75  
ITEM 2.   

PROPERTIES

     75  
ITEM 3.   

LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

     75  
ITEM 4.   

MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

     76  
PART II.      
ITEM 5.   

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

     77  
ITEM 6.   

SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

     80  
ITEM 7.   

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

     82  
ITEM 7A.   

QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

     142  
ITEM 8.   

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA

     146  
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

     232  
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

     266  
ITEM 16.   

FORM 10-K SUMMARY

     277  

SIGNATURES

     278  

 

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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, financial performance, and unit repurchase and distribution activities. 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/blackstonegroup), Instagram (www.instagram.com/blackstone), SoundCloud (www.soundcloud.com/blackstone-300250613), PodBean (www.blackstone.podbean.com), Spotify (https://open.spotify.com/show/1PqaIgd12KgRN8rlijBhE7) 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 email alerts and other information about Blackstone when you enroll your email 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, hedge funds, credit-focused funds, collateralized loan obligations (“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 fund of funds business as Strategic Partners Fund Solutions (“Strategic Partners”), our infrastructure focused funds as Blackstone Infrastructure Partners (“BIP”), our 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

 

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(“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 estate investment trusts as “REITs”, to Blackstone Mortgage Trust, Inc., our NYSE-listed REIT, as “BXMT”, and to Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust, Inc., our non-exchange traded REIT, as “BREIT”. “Our hedge funds” refers to our funds of hedge funds, 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. “BIS” refers to Blackstone Insurance Solutions, which partners with insurers to deliver bespoke, capital-efficient investments tailored to each insurer’s needs and risk profile. “BXLS” refers to Blackstone Life Sciences, a private investment platform with capabilities to invest across the life-cycle of companies and products within the key life sciences sectors.

“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 (1) 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, or (2) for certain credit-focused funds the amounts available to be borrowed under asset based credit facilities,

 

  (b)

the net asset value of (1) our hedge funds and real estate debt carry funds, BPP, certain co-investments managed by us, and our Hedge Fund Solutions carry and drawdown funds (plus, in each case, the capital that we are entitled to call from investors in those funds, including commitments yet to commence their investment periods), and (2) our funds of hedge funds, our Hedge Fund Solutions registered investment companies, and BREIT,

 

  (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, funds structured like hedge funds and other open ended 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, excluding our BIS separately managed accounts, 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 fees and/or performance revenues. 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 BREDS and Hedge Fund Solutions funds, the amount of capital commitments, remaining invested capital, fair value, net asset 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,

 

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  (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, BPP, certain co-investments managed by us, certain registered investment companies, BREIT, and certain of our Hedge Fund Solutions drawdown funds,

 

  (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 revenues 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.

“Perpetual Capital” refers to the component of assets under management with an indefinite term, that is not in liquidation, and for which there is no requirement to return capital to investors through redemption requests in the ordinary course of business, except where funded by new capital inflows. Perpetual Capital includes co-investment capital with an investor right to convert into Perpetual Capital.

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 $472.2 billion as of December 31, 2018. 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 real estate, private equity, hedge fund solutions, credit, secondary 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 scale, diversified business, long track record of investment performance, rigorous 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 portfolio companies stronger in ways that can have positive impacts on local economies.

As of December 31, 2018, we employed approximately 2,615 people, including our 147 senior managing directors, at our headquarters in New York and 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.

Business Segments

Our four business segments are: (a) Real Estate, (b) Private Equity, (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.

Real Estate

Our Real Estate group was founded in 1991 and is one of the largest real estate investment managers in the world, with $136.2 billion of Total Assets Under Management as of December 31, 2018. We operate as one globally integrated business with 545 employees and investments in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America. Our Real Estate investment team seeks to establish a differentiated view and capitalizes on our scale and proprietary information advantages to invest with conviction and generate attractive risk-adjusted returns for our investors over the long-term.

Our Blackstone Real Estate Partners 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, industrial assets, residential and shopping centers, as well as a variety of real estate operating companies.

 

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We launched Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies, 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., a NYSE-listed REIT.

We launched our core+ real estate business, Blackstone Property Partners, in 2013 and have assembled a global portfolio of high quality core+ investments across the U.S., Europe and Asia. We manage several core+ real estate funds, which target substantially stabilized assets in prime markets with a focus on industrial, multifamily, office and retail assets. The funds generate returns through both current income and value appreciation over the long-term.

We launched Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust, a non-exchange traded REIT, in 2017. BREIT is focused on investing primarily in stabilized income-oriented commercial real estate in the United States.

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

Private Equity

Our Private Equity segment, established in 1987, is a global business with approximately 445 employees managing $130.7 billion of Total Assets Under Management as of December 31, 2018. We are a world leader in private equity investing, having managed seven general private equity funds, three sector-focused funds and one geographically-focused fund 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 Blackstone Capital Partners, our flagship private equity funds, our sector-focused funds, including our energy-focused funds (Blackstone Energy Partners) and our Asia-focused fund. The principal component of our Private Equity segment is our corporate private equity business. Our corporate private equity business consists of: (a) our flagship private equity funds, Blackstone Capital Partners, (b) our sector-focused funds, including our energy-focused funds, Blackstone Energy Partners, (c) our Asia-focused fund and (d) our core private equity fund, Blackstone Core Equity Partners, 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 (a) our opportunistic investment platform that invests globally across asset classes, industries and geographies, Blackstone Tactical Opportunities, (b) our secondary fund of funds business, Strategic Partners Fund Solutions, (c) our infrastructure-focused funds, Blackstone Infrastructure Partners, (d) our life sciences private investment platform, Blackstone Life Sciences, (e) our 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 and (f) our capital markets services business, Blackstone Capital Markets.

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 corporate private equity business seeks to make investments at or near book value where it can create goodwill or franchise value through post-acquisition actions.

 

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Tactical Opportunities is our opportunistic investment platform. The Tactical Opportunities mandate invests globally across asset classes, industries and geographies, seeking to identify and execute on attractive, differentiated investment opportunities. As part of the strategy, the team leverages the intellectual capital across Blackstone’s various businesses while continuously optimizing its approach in the face of ever-changing market conditions. Tactical Opportunities’ flexible mandate leads to a diversified portfolio of investments across a broad range of structures, including private and public securities and instruments and where the underlying exposure may be to equity or debt.

Strategic Partners, our secondary fund of funds business was established in 2000 and acquired by Blackstone in 2013. Strategic Partners is a total fund solutions provider. As a secondary investor it acquires interests in high quality private funds from original holders seeking liquidity. Strategic Partners focuses on a range of opportunities in underlying funds such as leveraged buyout, real estate, infrastructure, venture and growth capital, credit and other types of funds, as well as co-investments alongside financial sponsors. Strategic Partners also provides investment advisory services to separately managed account clients investing in primary and secondary investments in private funds and co-investments.

Blackstone Infrastructure Partners was established in 2017 and targets a diversified mix of core+, core and public-private partnership investments across the energy infrastructure, transportation, water and waste and communications sectors, with a primary focus in North America. BIP applies a disciplined, value-added, operationally intensive investment approach to investments in the infrastructure asset class. BIP expects to generate returns through both current income and value appreciation over the long-term.

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

Hedge Fund Solutions

The largest component of our Hedge Fund Solutions segment is 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 situations opportunities, create alternative solutions in the form of mutual funds and Undertakings for Collective Investments in Transferable Securities (“UCITS”) and invest directly. Working with our clients over the past 20 plus years, our Hedge Fund Solutions group has developed into a leading manager of institutional funds with approximately 265 employees managing $77.8 billion of Total Assets Under Management as of December 31, 2018. 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 segment, with $127.5 billion of Total Assets Under Management as of December 31, 2018 and approximately 410 employees, consists principally of GSO Capital Partners LP (“GSO”). GSO is one of the largest credit 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, middle market direct lending funds and other

 

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performing credit strategy funds. Our distressed strategies include credit alpha strategies, stressed/distressed funds and energy strategies. GSO’s long only strategies consist of CLOs, closed end funds, open ended funds and separately managed accounts.

In addition, our Credit segment includes our publicly traded master limited partnership (“MLP”) investment platform, which is managed by Harvest Fund Advisors LLC (“Harvest”). Harvest, which was founded in 2005 and subsequently acquired by Blackstone in 2017, primarily invests capital raised from institutional investors in separately managed accounts and pooled vehicles, investing in publicly traded MLPs holding primarily midstream energy assets in the U.S.

Our Credit segment also includes our insurer-focused platform, BIS. BIS partners with insurers to deliver customizable and diversified portfolios of Blackstone products across asset classes, as well as the option for full management of insurance companies’ investment portfolios.

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 alternative asset manager in Latin America that was founded in 1988. As of December 31, 2018, Pátria’s alternative asset management businesses had $13.2 billion in assets under management, including the management of private equity funds ($7.5 billion), infrastructure funds ($4.2 billion), real estate funds ($1.0 billion) and new initiatives ($440.4 million). Pátria has approximately 275 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. The investment committees of our businesses review and evaluate investment opportunities in a framework that includes a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the key risks of each investment.

Real Estate Funds

Our Real Estate 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 screening process during which the investment team evaluates general business and market investment criteria, the investment team conducts a more detailed underwriting, evaluation and diligence of the investment. The regional investment teams meet once a week to discuss investments under various stages of review. Our real estate operation has one global investment review process to consider and approve all investments. The relevant team of investment professionals (i.e., the deal team) generally submits a proposed transaction for review and approval by a review or investment committee depending on the size, region and type of investment. Our investment and review committees are composed of senior leaders of the firm and select senior managing directors of our Real Estate segment, including individuals based on the location and sector of the proposed transaction. Considerations that the investment and review committees take into account when evaluating an investment include the quality of the business or asset in which the fund proposes to invest, likely exit strategies, factors that could reduce the value of a business or asset upon sale, environmental, social and governance, or ESG, issues and macroeconomic trends in the relevant geographic region.

 

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The investment professionals of our real estate 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 dedicated asset management team, which is responsible for assisting in enhancing portfolio companies’ operations and value, our real estate professionals meet regularly to discuss new significant investment opportunities, reinvestment opportunities within the current portfolio and potential dispositions.

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, similar to that described under “— Real Estate Funds”. 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.

Tactical Opportunities 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 review committee is comprised of senior managing directors of the Tactical Opportunities business and a senior managing director of our private equity business, and the investment committee is comprised of senior leaders of the firm and key leaders of each business unit.

Strategic Partners is a total fund solutions provider and focuses on acquiring, among other things, secondary interests in private funds from original holders 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 comprised of senior members of our Strategic Partners business. 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.

BIP has one global investment committee, similar to that described under “— Real Estate Funds”, and applies uniform standards regardless of geography or sector. The BIP review committee and investment committee are each comprised of Mr. Schwarzman and other senior leaders of the firm, the Global Head of Infrastructure and key leaders of our private equity and credit-focused businesses.

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 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

 

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operations, processes, risk management and internal controls, industry reference checks and a legal review of the investment structures and legal documents. For our direct investing platform, our Hedge Fund Solutions team conducts due diligence on the underlying investment. In each case, once initial due diligence procedures are completed and the investment and other professionals are satisfied with the results of the review, the team typically 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 basis.

Credit

Each of our credit-focused funds has an investment committee similar to that described under “— Real Estate Funds”. The investment committees for the credit-focused funds include senior members of the respective investment teams associated with each credit-focused fund. The investment committees 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 committee charters.

The investment decisions for the customized credit long only clients and other clients whose portfolios are actively traded, including those advised by BIS, are made or reviewed 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. 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 new investment recommendations. Our portfolio managers and trading professionals discuss technical aspects of the recommendation as well as the risks associated with the overall portfolio composition with investment analysts. 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.

Harvest has an investment committee that is comprised of Harvest investment professionals, including senior members of the investment team. The investment committee oversees Harvest’s portfolio of investments and manages all security selection decisions for Harvest’s funds and separately managed accounts.

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 partnership, limited liability and other similar entities 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 (or for other permitted purposes) over a specified term. With the exception of certain core+ real estate and certain real estate debt funds, our private equity and private real estate funds are commitment structured funds. For certain BPP and BREDS 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 BXMT, BREIT, and a registered 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. 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

 

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are structured as funds where the investor’s capital is fully funded into the fund upon the subscription for interests in the fund. BIS is generally structured around separately managed accounts.

Our investment funds, separately managed accounts and other vehicles not domiciled in the European Economic Area (“EEA”) 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.” For our investment funds, separately managed accounts and other vehicles domiciled in the EEA, a Blackstone entity domiciled in the EEA generally serves as external alternative investment fund manager (“AIFM”), and the AIFM typically delegates its portfolio management function to a Blackstone-affiliated investment advisor registered under the 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 or AIFM, as applicable, pursuant to an investment advisory, investment management, AIFM or other similar agreement. Generally, the material terms of our investment advisory and AIFM agreements, as applicable, relate to the scope of services to be rendered by the investment adviser or the AIFM 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 or the AIFM, as applicable, 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 and AIFM 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 statutory exemptions provided by Section 3(c)(7), Section 7(d) or Section 3(c)(5)(C) 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)(5)(C) of the 1940 Act exempts from its registration requirements certain companies engaged primarily in investment in mortgages and other liens or investments in real estate. 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. BREIT 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 generally 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 and real estate debt 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 termination 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 (a) 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, or accelerate the withdrawal of their capital on an investor-by-investor basis, or (b) the fund’s investment period will automatically terminate and a specified percentage (including, in certain cases a simple majority) in accordance with specified procedures is required to restart it. In addition, the governing agreements of some of our investment funds

 

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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 and AIFM.

 

   

The investment adviser of each of our non-EEA domiciled carry funds and the AIFM of each of our EEA domiciled 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 adviser or AIFM to certain of our credit-focused carry/incentive funds, BPP funds and BCEP 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 value. These management fees are also payable on a regular basis (typically quarterly). These funds generally provide investors liquidity through annual, semi-annual, quarterly or monthly withdrawal or redemption rights, in some cases following the expiration of a specified period of time when capital may not be withdrawn. Daily redemption rights are generally provided in the case of registered mutual funds. 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. In addition, to the extent the mandate of our funds is to invest capital in third party managed hedge funds, as is the case with our funds of hedge funds, our funds will be required to pay management fees to such third party managers, which typically are borne by investors in such investment vehicles.

 

   

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. The quantum of fees will decrease as the fund deleverages toward the end of its term.

 

   

The investment adviser of each 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 each of our separately managed accounts are generally paid on a regular basis (typically quarterly) and if based on net asset value may 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 generally 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

 

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for managing the investment company will generally be subject to contractual rights the company’s board of directors 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 BREIT 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 “Part II. 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

Incentive fees generally are performance based allocations of a fund’s net capital appreciation during a period, typically annually, subject to the achievement of minimum return levels, high water marks, and/or other hurdle provisions, in accordance with the respective terms set out in each fund’s governing agreements. Incentive fees are typically realized at the end of the measurement period. Once realized, such fees are typically not subject to clawback or reversal. The following describes the incentive fees earned generally by Blackstone.

 

   

In our Hedge Fund Solutions segment, the investment adviser of our funds of hedge funds, certain 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 0% to 25%, as applicable, of the applicable investment vehicle’s net appreciation, subject to high water mark hurdle provisions and in some cases a preferred return. In addition, to the extent the mandate of our funds is to invest capital in third party managed hedge funds, as is the case with our funds of hedge funds, our funds will be required to pay incentive fees to such third party managers, which typically are borne by investors in such investment vehicles.

 

   

The general partners or similar entities of each of our real estate and credit hedge fund structures receive incentive fees of generally up to 20% of the applicable fund’s net capital appreciation per annum.

 

   

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 of BREIT, is entitled to a performance participation interest, which is paid annually and accrues monthly, in an amount equal to 12.5% of its total return, subject to a 5% hurdle amount and a high water mark with a catch-up.

 

   

The general partner of certain open ended BPP funds is entitled to an incentive fee allocation of generally 10% of net capital appreciation, subject to a hurdle amount generally of 6% to 7%, a loss recovery amount and a catch-up. Incentive Fees for these funds are generally realized every three years from when a limited partner makes its initial investment.

Performance Allocations

The general partner or an affiliate of each of our carry funds is entitled to a disproportionate allocation of the income otherwise allocable to the limited partners of such fund, commonly referred to as carried interest

 

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(“Performance Allocations”). Our ability to generate carried interest is an important element of our business and 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 (or affiliate) is generally entitled to a carried interest equal to 20% of the net realized income and gains (generally taking into account realized and unrealized or net unrealized losses) generated by such fund, except that the general partners (or affiliates) of certain of our credit-focused BREDS, BPP, Tactical Opportunities and secondary funds of funds, BTAS and BCEP, 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 and certain BIS funds) 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, credit-focused 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 is known as a “clawback” obligation and is an obligation of any person who received such carried interest, including us and other participants 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 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% to 70% beyond our pro-rata share of such obligation) 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, 2018, 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 or one of their affiliates, particularly real estate, private equity and credit-focused 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. For most of the funds where we receive such fees, we are required to reduce the

 

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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 and Capital Resources” 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.

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 sector 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. We compete for investments with such institutional investors and such institutional investors 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 and institutional investors (including sovereign wealth and pension 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

 

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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. 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, 2018, we employed approximately 2,615 people, including our 147 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, advertising and custody requirements, limitations on agency cross and principal transactions between an adviser and advisory clients, and general anti-fraud prohibitions.

Blackstone Advisory Partners L.P., a subsidiary of ours through which we conduct our capital markets 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 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 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

 

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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 ended and open ended 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 (“BGIP”) acts as a sub-advisor to its Blackstone U.S. affiliates in relation to the investment and re-investment of Europe, Middle East and Africa (“EMEA”)-based assets of Blackstone funds as well as arranging transactions to be entered into by or on behalf of Blackstone funds. BGIP also acts as a distributor of Blackstone funds in EMEA. BGIP has a Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (2007) (“MiFID”) cross-border passport to provide investment advisory services within the European Economic Area (“EEA”). BGIP’s principal place of business is in London and it has Representative Offices in the Dubai International Financial Centre (“DIFC”), Milan and Paris. GSO Capital Partners International LLP (“GSO U.K.”) is also authorized and regulated by the FCA in the United Kingdom. As of November 1, 2018, GSO U.K. no longer carried out any business activities. GSO U.K. has a MiFID cross-border passport to provide investment advisory services and investment management within the EEA. GSO U.K.’s principal place of business is in London. 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, recordkeeping, 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 (“DFME”) is authorized and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland (“CBI”) as an Investment Firm under the European Communities (Markets in Financial Instruments) Regulations 2007. DFME’s principal activity is the provision of management and advisory services to certain CLO and sub-advisory services to certain affiliates. Blackstone / GSO Debt Funds Management Europe II Limited (“DFME II”) is authorized and regulated by the CBI as an Alternative Investment Fund Manager under the European Union (Alternative Investment Fund Managers Regulations) 2013 (“AIFMRs”). DFME II provides investment management functions including portfolio management, risk management, administration, marketing and related activities to its alternative investment funds in accordance with AIFMRs and the conditions imposed by the CBI as set out in the CBI’s alternative investment fund rulebook.

Blackstone Europe Fund Management S.à r.l. (“BEFM”) is an approved Alternative Investment Fund Manager under the European Union Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (the “AIFMD”). BEFM may also provide discretionary portfolio management services and investment advice in accordance with article 5(4) of the Luxembourg Law of 12 July 2013 on alternative investment fund managers, as amended. BEFM provides investment management functions including portfolio management, risk management, administration, marketing and related activities to its alternative investment funds in accordance with AIFMD and the conditions imposed by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (“CSSF”) in Luxembourg. BEFM has a branch entity established in Denmark.

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 No. 1785) 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

 

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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 Blackstone Singapore Pte. Ltd. is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (Company Registration Number: 201020503E).

Certain investment advisers are also registered with international regulators in connection with their management of products that are locally distributed and/or regulated.

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 us 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 including a code of ethics, electronic 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, recordkeeping, 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 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 accordance with the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Internal Audit, which reports directly to the audit committee of the board of directors of our general partner, operates with a global mandate and is responsible for the examination and evaluation of the adequacy and effectiveness of the organization’s governance and risk management processes and internal controls, as well as the quality of performance in carrying out assigned responsibilities to achieve the organization’s stated goals and objectives.

Our enterprise risk management framework is designed to comprehensively identify, assess, mitigate and monitor our business, operational and other key enterprise risks at the corporate, business unit and fund level. Committees comprised of members of management and representatives of various business units and corporate

 

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functions consider and evaluate strategic, investment, reputational, financial, legal, compliance, human capital, operational, technology and other risks attendant to our business. Senior management reports regularly 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 views on 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 — Financial regulatory changes in the United States could adversely affect our business” and “— Item 1A. Risk 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.

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 funds, making it more difficult to find opportunities for our funds to exit and realize value from existing investments and reducing the ability of our 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 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, including a sharp decline in the stock market, such as the one experienced in the fourth quarter of 2018, may adversely affect our results, including our revenues and net income. In addition, our public equity holdings are concentrated in fewer large positions than was historically the case, thereby making our unrealized mark-to-market valuations particularly sensitive to sharp changes in the price of any of these positions. While not a problem today, 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 funds and adversely impact our operating results. Although overall financing costs still remain relatively low on a historical basis, there is continued concern that the monetary policy of central banks, including of the U.S. Federal

 

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Reserve, solid (albeit slowing) economic growth and inflationary 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, economic growth in many international economies may in the future contribute to tighter credit conditions, a decreased availability of foreign capital and rising interest rates. A strong U.S. dollar, which could be associated with rising interest rates, could hurt U.S. exports and growth and have an adverse impact on economic growth in international economies. In addition, 2018 was a year of significant geopolitical concerns, including, among other things, uncertainty regarding re-opening of the U.S. government after a shutdown in late 2018 and early 2019, trade tensions, most notably between China and the U.S., resulting from the implementation of tariffs by the U.S. and retaliatory tariffs by other countries on the U.S., continued tensions with North Korea over its ballistic missile testing and nuclear programs, uncertainty regarding the United Kingdom’s (“U.K.”) ongoing negotiation of the circumstances surrounding its withdrawal from the European Union and uncertainty regarding U.S. recertification of the Iran nuclear framework.

Although interest rates have remained at relatively low levels on a historical basis, the U.S. Federal Reserve continued to raise rates throughout 2018. After indicating in 2018 that gradual further rate increases would be appropriate, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would be patient with respect to further rate increases. There can be no assurance, however, that the Federal Reserve will not continue to raise rates in 2019. 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. Rising interest rates, coupled with periods of significant equity and credit market volatility, such as that which occurred in the fourth quarter of 2018, may potentially make it more difficult for us to find attractive opportunities for our funds to exit and realize value from their existing investments. 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. Uncertainty surrounding potential changes to governmental policy may also have an impact on our exit opportunities through the private markets. For example, recently enacted bipartisan legislation may significantly increase the number of transactions that are subject to the jurisdiction of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”). Once the reform legislation is fully implemented through the rulemaking process, CFIUS will have the authority to review, and potentially recommend that the President block or impose conditions on non-controlling investments in critical infrastructure and critical technology companies and in companies collecting or storing sensitive data of U.S. citizens, which may reduce the number of potential buyers and limit the ability of our funds to realize value from certain existing and future 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.

In recent years we have experienced buoyant markets and positive economic conditions. Although such conditions have often made it more difficult and competitive to find suitable investments for our funds to effectively deploy capital, they have also in many cases contributed to positive operating performance at our funds’ portfolio companies. As global markets enter a period of slower growth relative to recent years, such period of difficult market conditions or economic slowdown (which may be across one or more industries, sectors or geographies), may contribute to adverse operating performance, decreased revenues, credit rating downgrades, financial losses, difficulty in obtaining access to financing and increased funding costs for our funds’ portfolio companies. In addition, as the governing agreements of our funds contain only limited investment restrictions and only limited requirements as to diversification of fund investments (by, for example, sector or geographic region), during periods of difficult market conditions or slowdowns in certain sectors or regions, the decreased revenues and other impacts may be exacerbated by concentration of investments in such sector or region. 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

 

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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. The operating and financial performance of our portfolio companies would also likely be negatively impacted if pressure on wages and other inputs increasingly pressure profit margins.

In addition, during 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 may expose us to increased risks.”

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.

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 or weakening in the market for debt financing, such as the weakening that occurred in late 2018, 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 may become less attractive due to limitations on the deductibility of corporate interest expense. See “— Comprehensive U.S. federal income tax reform became effective in 2018, which 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 substantially 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 regulatory and/or tax changes or difficult credit markets render such financing difficult to obtain, more expensive or otherwise less attractive, which was the case in late 2018, 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

 

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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 Performance Allocations 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, 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.

The timing and receipt of Performance Allocations generated by our carry funds is uncertain and will contribute to the volatility of our results. Performance Allocations depend 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 Performance Allocations 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 Performance Allocations, substantial declines in the carrying value of the investment portfolios of a carry fund can significantly delay or eliminate any Performance Allocations paid to us in respect of that fund since the value of the assets in the fund would need to

 

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recover to their aggregate cost basis plus the preferred return over time before we would be entitled to receive any Performance Allocations from that fund.

The timing and receipt of Performance Allocations 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 Performance Allocations.

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 between semi-annually and every five years, 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 the amount of cash generated by our businesses, and in turn, our ability to make distributions to our unitholders.

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, including servicing our debt and (d) make distributions to our unitholders and the holders of Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units. Our principal sources of cash are: (a) cash we received in connection with our prior bond offerings, (b) Fee Related Earnings and (c) Net Realizations, which is the sum of Realized Principal Investment Income and Realized Performance Revenues less Realized Performance Compensation. We have also entered into a $1.6 billion revolving credit facility with a final maturity date of September 21, 2023. Our long-term debt totaled $3.5 billion in borrowings from our prior bond issuances and we had no borrowings outstanding against our $1.6 billion revolving credit facility as of December 31, 2018. At the end of 2018, we had $2.2 billion in cash and cash equivalents, $2.5 billion invested in our corporate treasury investments and $1.9 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 Performance Allocations to us. This could materially and adversely affect the amount of cash we have on hand, including for, among other purposes, the making of 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) for the above purposes. 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

 

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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 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 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, the Tax Reform Bill (as defined below) now imposes a longer three-year holding period requirement for carried interest to be treated as long-term capital gain. This change to the treatment of carried interest under the Tax Reform Bill, along with other potential changes in applicable federal, state, local and other tax laws that may be enacted, may adversely affect our ability to recruit, retain and motivate our current and future

 

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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 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, we have increasingly undertaken business initiatives to offer registered investment products 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 have increasingly undertaken business initiatives to increase the number and type of investment products we offer to retail investors, which could expose us to new and greater levels of risk.” 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.

 

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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, there have been legislative proposals to tax certain publicly traded partnerships as corporations. If these proposals were enacted and applied to us, our effective tax rate could increase significantly.

Certain past legislative proposals would treat certain publically traded partnerships as corporations for federal income tax purposes. If similar legislation were enacted and applied to us, we would not qualify as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes. If we were taxed as a corporation our effective tax rate could increase significantly.

Comprehensive U.S. federal income tax reform became effective in 2018, which could adversely affect us.

U.S. federal income tax reform legislation known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed into law on December 22, 2017 (the “Tax Reform Bill”) has resulted in fundamental changes to the Internal Revenue Code. Changes to U.S. tax laws resulting from the Tax Reform Bill, including reduction to the federal corporate income tax rate, partial limitation on the deductibility of business interest expense, and a longer three-year holding period requirement for carried interest to be treated as long-term capital gain could have an adverse effect on our business operations and our funds’ investment activities. These and other changes from the Tax Reform Bill — including limitations on the use, carryback and carryforward of net operating losses and changes relating to the scope and timing of U.S. taxation on earnings from international business operations — could also have an adverse effect on our portfolio companies. The exact impact of the Tax Reform Bill is difficult to quantify, but these changes could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, other changes could be enacted in the future to increase the corporate tax rate, limit further the deductibility of interest, subject carried interest to more onerous taxation or effect other changes that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

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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. Several of the proposed measures are potentially relevant to some of our structures and could have an adverse tax impact on our funds, investors and/or our portfolio companies. Some member countries have been moving forward on the BEPS agenda but, because timing of implementation and the specific measures adopted will vary among participating states, significant uncertainty remains regarding the impact of BEPS proposals. If implemented, these proposals could result in a loss of tax treaty benefits and increased taxes on income from our investments.

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.

States and local jurisdictions have enacted and are considering changes to the income tax treatment of carried interest and partnerships generally that could cause us to incur a material increase in our tax liability and/or cause carried interest or other income allocable to holders of our common units to be subject to state or local income tax at higher rates than under current law.

States and other jurisdictions have enacted and are considering legislation to increase taxes with respect to carried interest. For example, New Jersey recently enacted legislation which eliminates an exclusion from New Jersey source income (for non-residents) for carried interest and income from providing investment management services, which is not expected to materially affect our common unitholders, and authorizes a contingent 17% surtax on such management income for gross income tax and corporate income tax purposes. These carried interest provisions remain non-operative as they are dependent upon Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts enacting legislation with identical provisions. In addition, New York recently introduced legislation which would tax income from certain investment management services provided by a partner (whether or not a New York resident), which could cause 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. As part of that legislation, New York also proposed a state tax surcharge of 19% on carried interest in addition to the personal income tax. Similar to the New Jersey legislation, the New York legislation would not take effect until similar legislation is enacted by Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Similar proposals are under consideration in other jurisdictions such as California. Whether or when similar legislation will be enacted is unclear.

Finally, several state and local jurisdictions are evaluating 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. For example, although it would not affect us materially, Connecticut recently enacted an income tax on pass through entities doing business in Connecticut, and states in which we do business may consider similar tax changes. These and other proposals have recently been under heightened consideration in light of the Tax Reform Bill. If any state were to impose a tax upon us as an entity, our distribution to common unitholders would be reduced.

 

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The U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union may negatively impact the value of certain of our assets.

In March 2017 the U.K. initiated a two-year negotiation period preceding its withdrawal from the European Union (“Brexit”). There is ongoing uncertainty as to the timing, including with respect to any transition period, and the terms of Brexit. The uncertainty surrounding Brexit has contributed to increased political and economic volatility in the global financial markets. 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 asset values in those regions. For example, as a result of Brexit, the U.K. may lose access to global trade deals negotiated by the European Union on behalf of its members, which could impact the attractiveness of the U.K. as a global business and financial center and thereby impact the rate of economic growth in the U.K.

In addition, since the result of the Brexit referendum in mid-2016, the British pound has experienced periods of weakness, and there can be no assurance that such weakness will not be exacerbated upon Brexit’s effectiveness, particularly in the event of no transition period. Continued weakness or a further decline in the value of the British pound may negatively impact the mark-to-market valuations of our British pound-denominated investments. Weakness in the British pound may also contribute to volatility in other currencies, including the euro, which may negatively impact the mark-to-market valuations of our euro denominated investments. Weakness or significant fluctuation in currency exchange rates may also adversely impact our financial results as a result of the conversion of investment principal and income from one currency into another.

Operational risks, including cybersecurity 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. Attacks on our systems could involve, and in some instances have in the past involved, attempts intended to obtain unauthorized access to our proprietary information, destroy data or disable, degrade or sabotage our systems, including through the introduction of computer viruses, “phishing” attempts and other forms of social engineering. Cyberattacks and other security threats could originate from a wide variety of sources, including cyber criminals, nation state hackers, hacktivists and other outside parties. There has been an increase in the frequency and sophistication of the cyber and security threats we face, with attacks ranging from those common to businesses generally to those that are more advanced and persistent, which may target us because, as an alternative asset management firm, we hold a significant amount of confidential and sensitive information about our investors, our portfolio companies and potential investments. As a result, we may face a heightened risk of a security breach or disruption with respect to this information. If successful, these types of attacks on our network or other systems could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations, due to, among other things, the loss of investor or proprietary data, interruptions or delays in our business and damage to our reputation. There can be no assurance that measures we take to ensure the integrity of our systems will provide protection, especially because cyberattack techniques used change frequently or are not recognized until successful. If our systems are compromised, do not operate properly or are disabled, or we fail to provide the appropriate regulatory or other notifications in a timely manner, 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. The costs related to cyber or other security threats or disruptions may not be fully insured or indemnified by other means. In addition, cybersecurity has become a top priority for regulators around the world. Many jurisdictions in which we operate have laws and regulations relating to data privacy, cybersecurity and protection of personal information, including the General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union that went into effect in May 2018. Some jurisdictions have also enacted laws requiring companies to notify individuals of data security breaches involving certain types of personal data. Breaches in security could potentially jeopardize our, our employees’ or our fund investors’ or counterparties’ confidential and other information processed and stored in, and transmitted through, our computer systems and networks, or otherwise cause interruptions or malfunctions in our, our

 

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employees’, our fund investors’, our counterparties’ or third parties’ operations, which could result in significant losses, increased costs, disruption of our business, liability to our fund investors and other counterparties, regulatory intervention or reputational damage. Furthermore, if we fail to comply with the relevant laws and regulations, it could result in regulatory investigations and penalties, which could lead to negative publicity and may cause our fund investors and clients to lose confidence in the effectiveness of our security measures.

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.

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. In addition 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.

Finally, our portfolio companies also rely on data processing systems and the secure processing, storage and transmission of information, including payment and health information. A disruption or compromise of these systems could have a material adverse effect on the value of these businesses. Our funds may invest in strategic assets having a national or regional profile or in infrastructure, the nature of which could expose them to a greater risk of being subject to a terrorist attack or security breach than other assets or businesses. Such an event may have material adverse consequences on our investment or assets of the same type or may require portfolio companies to increase preventative security measures or expand insurance coverage.

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. Moreover, the financial services industry in recent years has been the subject of heightened scrutiny, and the SEC has specifically focused on private equity. In that connection, in recent years the SEC’s stated examination priorities have included, among other things, private equity firms’ collection of fees and allocation of expenses, their marketing and valuation practices, allocation of investment opportunities and policies and procedures with respect to conflicts of interest. 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. SEC actions and initiatives can have an adverse effect on our financial results, including as a result of the imposition of a sanction, a limitation on our or our personnel’s activities, 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

 

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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 from time to time publicly filed and/or provided to us the disclosures reproduced on Exhibit 99.1 of our Quarterly Reports. We do not independently verify or participate in the preparation of these disclosures. We are required to separately file with the SEC a notice when such activities have been disclosed in this report, and the SEC is required to post such notice of disclosure on its website and send the report to the President and certain U.S. Congressional committees. The President thereafter is required to initiate an investigation and, within 180 days of initiating such an investigation, 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, and any failure to disclose any such activities as required could additionally result in fines or penalties.

Financial regulatory changes in the United States could adversely affect our business.

The financial services industry is, and continues to be, the subject of heightened regulatory scrutiny in the United States. For example, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”), enacted in July 2010, imposed significant changes on almost every aspect of the U.S. financial services industry, including aspects of our business. Some aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act have not been fully implemented and it is uncertain how certain requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act will be impacted in the near future. The Trump administration has indicated a desire to repeal, revise or replace aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act, but the timing and details on specific proposals are uncertain.

 

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Among other things, the Dodd-Frank Act amended 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 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) 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.

On April 5, 2018, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia entered an order implementing a prior ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and thereby vacating the U.S. risk retention rules insofar as they apply to CLO managers of “open market CLOs” (described in the ruling as CLOs where assets are acquired from “arms-length negotiations and trading on an open market”). In addition, the SEC and Federal Reserve did not request that the case be heard by the United States Supreme Court. As a result, CLO managers of “open market CLOs” will no longer be required to comply with the U.S. Risk Retention Rules, and no party to such “open market CLOs” will be required to acquire and retain an economic interest in the credit risk of the securitized assets. However, the ruling also does not impact the risk retention rules imposed by authorities outside the United States. We are in the process of evaluating this decision and its ultimate impact on our business.

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 recent focus of this commentary, 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 Financial Stability Oversight Council (the “FSOC”) has the authority under the Dodd-Frank Act 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. To date, 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.

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 April 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule (the “DOL Fiduciary Rule”) to expand 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 March 15, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated the DOL Fiduciary Rule and accompanying exemptions in their entirety. On June 21, 2018, the Fifth Circuit issued the mandate that makes effective its decision

 

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to vacate the DOL Fiduciary Rule. Whether the DOL Fiduciary Rule will resurface in its original form and/or some variation is impossible to determine. In addition, several states have taken actions to potentially institute a rule similar to the DOL Fiduciary Rule. While these rules are not finalized, any such rule could have an adverse effect on the distribution of our products to certain investors.

On April 18, 2018, the SEC released for public comment a package of proposed actions on the standards of conduct and required disclosures for broker-dealers and investment advisers. These proposed actions would apply more broadly than, and in certain relevant respects would operate similarly to, the DOL Fiduciary Rule. One of the proposals, entitled “Regulation Best Interest,” would require broker-dealers to act in the “best interest” of retail customers at the time a recommendation is made without placing the financial or other interests of the broker-dealer ahead of the interests of the retail customer. Additionally, the SEC proposed a new requirement for both broker-dealers and investment advisers to provide a brief relationship summary to retail investors with information intended to clarify the relationship between the parties. Finally, the SEC issued a proposed interpretation regarding the fiduciary duty that investment advisers owe their clients. The SEC has received thousands of comments from disparate stakeholders regarding these proposed actions. Whether the proposed actions will be adopted, and whether any final rule will remain in its current form, is impossible to determine. The final rules, if they become fully applicable in their current form, 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, and proposed, potential modifications to the Dodd-Frank Act and other deregulatory measures, is impossible to determine.

Financial deregulation measures proposed and recently enacted 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 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, capital and liquidity requirements, 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. In response to this executive order, the U.S. Department of Treasury released four reports that identify laws and regulations that are inconsistent with the core principles set forth in the executive order and proposed recommendations for reform in the regulation of banks and credit unions, capital markets, asset management and insurance companies, and nonbank financials and financial technology companies. On May 24, 2018, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (the “Reform Act”) was signed into law. Among other financial regulatory changes, the Reform Act amends various sections of the Dodd-Frank Act, including by modifying the Volcker Rule to exempt certain insured depository institutions. The Reform Act and various other proposals focused on deregulation of the U.S. financial services industry may have the effect of increasing competition for our businesses. For example, 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.

Whether any particular other legislative or regulatory proposals will be enacted or adopted remains unclear. In addition, it is not possible to determine the full extent of any impact on us or any of the portfolio companies of our funds of any such potential financial reform legislation, or whether any such proposal will become law. Any changes in the regulatory framework applicable to our business or the businesses of the portfolio companies of our funds, including the changes described above, may impose additional costs, 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.

 

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The potential for further governmental policy changes and regulatory reform by the Trump administration and the U.S. Congress 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.

In March 2018, the U.S. imposed an additional 25% tariff under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended, on steel products, including stainless steel, imported into the U.S. These new tariffs have resulted in, and may continue to trigger, retaliatory actions by affected countries, including the imposition of tariffs on the U.S. by other countries. Certain foreign governments have instituted or are considering imposing trade sanctions on certain U.S. goods. Others are considering the imposition of sanctions that will deny U.S. companies access to critical raw materials. Further governmental actions related to the imposition of tariffs or other trade barriers or changes to international trade agreements or policies, could further 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.

In addition, trade tensions between the U.S. and China continued to escalate in 2018 and early 2019. Further escalation of the “trade war” between the U.S. and China, or the countries’ inability to reach a timely trade agreement, may negatively impact the rate of global growth, particularly in China, which has and continues to exhibit signs of slowing growth. Such slowing growth could adversely affect the revenues and profitability of our funds’ portfolio companies.

President Trump has also advocated for greater restrictions on international trade generally and has expressed antipathy toward certain international trade agreements and organizations, including the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization (the “WTO”). If the U.S. were to withdraw from or materially modify international trade agreements to which it is a party, or if the U.S. were to withdraw from trade organizations such as the WTO, certain foreign-sourced goods that are sold or purchased by our portfolio companies may no longer be available at commercially attractive prices or at all, which in turn could adversely affect the revenues and profitability of such companies.

Further, the Trump administration has outlined governmental policy changes and/or regulatory reform in multiple other areas, including tax, 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 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 has been a continued area of focus for the Trump 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.

 

   

Effective for months beginning after December 31, 2018, the Tax Reform Bill provides for the repeal of the provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), which requires certain individuals without minimum health coverage to pay a penalty. This repeal and other measures being pursued by the Trump administration could result in an increase in the size of the uninsured population or a reduction in funds presently available to patients as a result of the repeal of this provision or the

 

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potential repeal of other 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. Further, one court has ruled that the ACA is unconstitutional, but stayed that decision pending resolution of an appeal. If that decision is not reversed on appeal, that could exacerbate the types of adverse developments that are described above.

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 or increase our compliance or withholding tax costs.

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 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. 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 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 Luxembourg, the U.K. 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”). Compliance with such regimes could result in increased administrative and compliance costs and could subject our investment entities to increased 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. Increasingly, the rules and regulations in the financial sector in Europe are becoming more prescriptive.

The AIFMD, as transposed into national law within the member states of the European Economic Area (“EEA”), was implemented in 2013 and established a new regulatory regime for alternative investment fund managers, including private equity and hedge fund managers. 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 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).

Our AIFM in Luxembourg and the European fund structures in respect of which it is the appointed investment manager, are subject to the full requirements of the AIFMD, such as rules relating to, among other things,

 

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depositary oversight, 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 has increased 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.

The EU Securitization Regulation (the “Securitization Regulation”), which became effective on January 1, 2019, repealed and replaced the securitization provisions in a range of sector-specific European Union legislation, including the AIFMD. The Securitization Regulation imposes due diligence and risk retention requirements on “institutional investors,” which includes managers of alternative investment funds assets, and constrains the ability of alternative investment funds to invest in securitization positions that do not comply with the prescribed risk retention requirements. Unlike the predecessor provisions, these requirements may apply not only to AIFs managed by EU AIFMs but may also apply to AIFs managed by non-EU AIFMs where those AIFs have been registered for marketing in the EU under Article 42 of the AIFMD. Consequently, the requirements apply to any Blackstone managed investment funds that have been registered for marketing in the EU. Given the expanded breadth of the revised regulation, this may impact or limit our funds’ ability to make certain investments that constitute “securitizations” under the Securitization Regulation and may impose additional reporting obligations on securitizations, which may increase the costs of managing such vehicles. In addition, the existence of the requirement to “retain risk” limits the ability of the investment manager to market portions of the securitization to investors, which may result in less fee revenues to us.

The EU Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, as transposed into national law within the member states of the EU and the EU Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation (collectively, “MiFID II”), came into force on January 3, 2018 and overhauled and expanded the existing body of EU law regulating investment firms, which had been in effect since 2007. MiFID II requires, among other things, all MiFID investment firms, including private equity and hedge fund managers, to comply with more prescriptive disclosure, transparency, reporting and recordkeeping obligations and enhanced obligations in relation to the receipt of investment research, best execution, product governance and marketing communications. As we operate investment firms which are subject to MiFID, we have implemented revised policies and procedures to comply with MiFID II where relevant, including where certain rules have an extraterritorial impact on the firm. Compliance with MiFID II has resulted in greater overall complexity, higher compliance and administration and operational costs and less overall flexibility.

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) replaced the existing data protection directive and, as a regulation, has direct effect in all EU member states from May 25, 2018. Although a number of the existing principles for the protection of personal data remain, the GDPR is designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe and reshape the way organizations approach data privacy. The GDPR introduced new obligations and expanded the territorial reach of EU data protection legislation. It applies to all organizations processing or holding personal data of EU ‘data subjects’ (regardless of the organization’s location) as well as to organizations outside the EU that offer goods or services in the EU, or that monitor the behavior of EU data subjects. Personal data is information that can be used to identify a natural person, including a name, a photo, an email address, or a computer IP address. Compliance with the GDPR requires companies to analyze and evaluate how they handle data in the ordinary course of their business, from processes to technology. It imposes a prescriptive approach to compliance requiring organizations to demonstrate and record compliance and to provide much more detailed information to data subjects regarding processing. EU data subjects are given full disclosure about how their personal data will be used and stored. Companies must be in a position to delete information from their global systems permanently if consent, where required, is withdrawn. As with any other organization that holds personal data of EU data subjects, we are required to comply with the GDPR because, among other things, we process European individuals’ personal data in the U.S. via our global technology systems. Financial regulators and data protection authorities throughout the EU have significantly increased audit and investigatory powers under GDPR to probe how personal data is being used and processed. Penalties for non-compliance are material. Serious breaches of GDPR include antitrust-like

 

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fines on companies of up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of global group turnover in the preceding year, regulatory action and reputational risk.

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-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 European Banking Authority (“EBA”) has issued guidelines which set appropriate aggregate limits to shadow banking entities when carrying out banking activities. 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 are 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.

Germany has 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. See “Part II. 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 our outstanding borrowings. 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 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 September 21, 2023. As borrowings under the facility or any other indebtedness mature, we may be required to

 

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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” for a discussion of a certain proceeding to which we are currently a party.

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.

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 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, regulators, or employees, 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, our workplace environment, 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 to improperly use or disclose confidential information, we could suffer serious harm to our reputation, financial position and current and

 

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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 U.K. 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 or 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, anti-harassment or other legal and regulatory requirements, could subject us to, among other things, civil and criminal penalties or material fines, profit disgorgement, injunctions on future conduct and securities litigation, and could also 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 Performance Allocations 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 Performance Allocations 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 will be obligated to repay the amount by which Performance Allocations that were previously distributed to us exceed amount 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.

 

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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 on attractive fee terms or at all, our ability to collect management fees or deploy such capital into investments and potentially collect Performance Allocations would be impacted, 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, state politicians and lawmakers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and North Carolina have recently taken steps or expressed intent to take steps to reduce or minimize the ability of their state pension funds to invest in alternative asset classes. The Pennsylvania governor, for example, asked the state’s two retirement funds to close out their private equity investments in favor of an all-index fund strategy, citing high fees paid to alternative asset managers, and in New Jersey, new commitments by the state pension fund to private equity were frozen in 2018. There is no assurance that other states will not take similar actions, which may impair our access to capital from an investor base that has historically represented a significant portion of our fundraising. In addition, volatility in the valuations of investments, has in the past and may in the future affect our ability to raise capital from third party investors. To the extent periods of volatility are coupled with a lack of realizations from investors’ existing private equity and real estate portfolios, as was the case in 2008 and 2009, such investors may be left with disproportionately outsized remaining commitments to a number of investment funds, which significantly limits such investors’ 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 other 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. In periods of positive markets and low volatility, for example, investors may favor passive investment strategies such as index funds over our actively managed investment vehicles. Alternative investments could also 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 a number of investors, including certain public pension funds, have increased their allocations to the alternative investments asset class 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.

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 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 or that the fee terms of the commitments from such new investors will be consistent with the fees historically paid to us by our 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. For example, the private credit markets and the fundraising environment remain extremely competitive and, as a result, our direct lending fundraising efforts may be delayed beyond our expectations and/or may not be successful in replacing and/or exceeding the Assets Under Management, revenues and earnings associated with our terminated sub-advisory relationship with FS Investments. If we are unable to successfully raise capital, it could materially reduce our revenue and cash flow and adversely affect our financial condition.

 

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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, including with respect to management fees, incentive fees and/or carried interest, which could have an adverse impact on our revenues. Such terms could also 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, 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. In addition, certain institutional investors, including public pension funds, 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 Performance Allocations and Incentive Fees we earn.

We have increasingly undertaken business initiatives to increase the number and type of investment products we offer to retail investors, which could expose us to new and greater levels of risk.

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, private banks or third party feeder providers, and in other cases directly to the qualified clients of private banks, independent investment advisors and brokers. In other cases we create registered investment products specifically designed for direct investment by 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. To the extent we distribute retail 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. 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 reputation damage and possible legal liability to the extent such third parties improperly sell our products to investors. Similarly, the hiring of employees to oversee independent advisors and brokers presents risks if they fail to follow training, review and supervisory procedures. In addition, the distribution of retail products through new channels whether directly or through market intermediaries 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.

We are subject to increasing scrutiny from institutional investors with respect to the social cost of investments made by our funds, which may constrain capital deployment opportunities for our funds and adversely impact our ability to raise capital from such investors.

In recent years, certain institutional investors, including public pension funds, have placed increasing importance on the implications and social cost of investments made by the private equity and other funds to which

 

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they commit capital, including with respect to environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) matters. Certain public pension funds have also demonstrated increased activism with respect to existing investments, including by urging asset managers to take certain actions that could adversely impact the value of an investment, or refrain from taking certain actions that could improve the value of an investment. At times, investors have conditioned future capital commitments on the taking or refraining from taking of such actions. Investors’ increased focus and activism related to ESG and similar matters may constrain our capital deployment opportunities. In addition, institutional investors may decide to withdraw previously committed capital from our funds (where such withdrawal is permitted) or to not commit capital to future fundraises as a result of their assessment of our approach to and consideration of the social cost of investments made by our funds. As public pension funds represent a significant portion of our funds’ investor bases, to the extent our access to capital from such investors is impaired, we may not be able to maintain or increase the size of our funds or raise sufficient capital for new funds, which may adversely impact our revenues.

In addition, ESG matters have been the subject of increased focus by certain regulators in the EU. For example, in May 2018 the European Commission proposed legislative reforms relating in part to formalizing the duties and disclosure obligations of investors, funds and asset managers in relation to ESG factors. These proposals are currently in the EU legislative process and are likely to be implemented in 2020. If implemented, we may be required to provide additional disclosure to investors in our funds with respect to ESG risks.

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.

Our investment funds make investments in illiquid investments or financial instruments for which there is little, if any, market activity. We determine the value of such investments and financial instruments on at least a quarterly basis based on the fair value of such investments. The fair value of such investments and financial instruments is generally determined using several methodologies described in the investment funds’ valuation policies.

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. See “Part II. Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operation — Critical Accounting Policies” for an overview of critical accounting policies that could potentially produce materially different results if we were to change underlying assumptions, estimates, methodologies and/or judgments used in the determination of the value of certain investments and financial instruments.

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 Performance Allocations 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.

 

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Interest rates on our and our portfolio companies’ outstanding financial instruments might be subject to change based on regulatory developments, which could adversely affect our revenue, expenses and the value of those financial instruments.

LIBOR and certain other floating rate benchmark indices are the subject of recent national, international and regulatory guidance and proposals for reform. These reforms may cause such benchmarks to perform differently than in the past or have other consequences which cannot be predicted. On July 27, 2017, the FCA, which regulates LIBOR, publicly announced that it intends to stop persuading or compelling banks to submit LIBOR rates after 2021. It is expected that a transition away from the widespread use of LIBOR to alternative rates will occur over the course of the next several years. As a result of this transition, interest rates on our CLOs and other financial instruments tied to LIBOR rates, as well as the revenue and expenses associated with those financial instruments, may be adversely affected. Further, any uncertainty regarding the continued use and reliability of LIBOR as a benchmark interest rate could adversely affect the value of our and our portfolio companies’ financial instruments tied to LIBOR rates. There is no guarantee that a transition from LIBOR to an alternative will not result in financial market disruptions or a significant increase in benchmark rates or borrowing costs to borrowers. Although we have been proactively negotiating provisions in our portfolio companies’ recent debt agreements to provide additional flexibility to address the transition away from LIBOR, there is no assurance that we will be able to adequately minimize the risk of disruption to us or our portfolio companies from the discontinuation of LIBOR or other changes to benchmark indices.

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.

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 2008-2009 financial crisis, despite periods of volatility, market conditions have been largely favorable, which helped to generate positive performance, particularly in our private equity and real estate businesses, but 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,

 

   

competition for investment opportunities resulting from, among other things, the increased amount of capital invested in alternative investment funds continues to increase,

 

   

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

 

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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 and real estate 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. 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. However, the status of the 2013 leveraged lending guidance remains uncertain following a determination by the Government Accountability Office, on October 19, 2017, that such guidance constituted a “rule” for purposes of the Congressional Review Act of 1996. As a result, the guidance was required to be submitted to Congress for review. It is possible the guidance could be overturned if a joint resolution of disapproval is passed by Congress. Furthermore, new limits on the deductibility of corporate interest expense could make it more costly to use debt financing for our acquisitions or otherwise have an adverse impact on the cost structure of our transactions, and could therefore adversely affect the returns on our funds’ investments. See “— Comprehensive U.S. federal income tax reform became effective in 2018, which 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. In particular, in late 2018 the credit markets experienced a contraction in the availability of credit, which temporarily impacted the ability to obtain attractive debt financing transactions.

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,

 

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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, or 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 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. For example, certain traditional asset managers have developed their own private equity platforms and are marketing other asset allocation strategies as alternatives to hedge fund

 

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investments. Additionally, developments in financial technology, or fintech, such as distributed ledger technology, or blockchain, have the potential to disrupt the financial industry and change the way financial institutions, as well as asset managers, do business. 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,

 

   

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

 

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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 and recently enacted 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 and issues 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, social, governance and legal and regulatory 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) or risks that may be necessary or helpful in evaluating such investment opportunity and we may not identify or foresee future developments that could have a material adverse effect on an investment (e.g., technological disruption across an industry).

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 and information necessary to properly assess and monitor our funds’ investment in a particular hedge fund.

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 private equity 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 and real estate 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

 

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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 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.

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

A number of our funds, including our real estate and private equity funds, have invested and plan to continue to invest in large transactions. In addition, as we raise new funds, such funds’ mandates may include investing in large transactions. Large investments involve 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 or other large investors 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.

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, a number of our 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

 

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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. International investments have increased and we expect will continue to 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

 

   

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 may be negatively impacted by restrictions on international trade or the recent or potential further imposition of tariffs. See “— The potential for further governmental policy changes and regulatory reform by the Trump administration and the U.S. Congress 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.

 

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

In certain circumstances, 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 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, we may be obligated to repay the amount by which Performance Allocations that were previously distributed to us exceed the amounts to which the relevant general partner is ultimately entitled on an after-tax basis. This includes situations in which the general partner receives in excess of the relevant Performance Allocations applicable to the fund as applied to the fund’s cumulative net profits over the life of the fund or, in some cases, the fund has not achieved investment returns that exceed the preferred return threshold. This obligation is known as a “clawback” obligation and is an obligation of any person who received such Performance Allocations, including us and other participants in our Performance Allocations plans. Although a portion of any distributions by us to our unitholders may include any Performance Allocations 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 Performance Allocations 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 Performance Allocations and satisfy such obligation. If we were unable to repay such Performance Allocations, 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 Performance Allocations (such as a current or former employee) does not fund his or her respective share, then we and our employees who participate in such Performance Allocations plans may have to fund additional amounts (generally an additional 50-70% beyond our pro-rata share of such obligations) beyond what we actually received in Performance Allocations, although we retain the right to pursue any remedies that we have under such governing agreements against those Performance Allocations recipients who fail to fund their obligations.

Investments by our investment funds will in many 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 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.

 

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Investors in our hedge funds or open ended 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/or 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 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 most of our investment funds (with the exception of certain of our funds of hedge funds, hedge funds, certain credit-focused and real estate debt funds, and other funds or separately managed accounts for the benefit of one or more specified investors) provide that, subject to certain conditions, third party investors in those funds have the right to remove the general partner of the fund or to accelerate the termination 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 Performance Allocations and Incentive Fees from those funds. Performance Allocations 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. 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 a specified percentage (including, in certain cases, a simple majority) vote 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. 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, an “assignment” of the management agreements of all of our investment funds (which may be deemed to occur in the event these advisers were to experience a change of control) would generally be prohibited without investor consent. We cannot be certain that consents required for assignments of our investment management agreements will be

 

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obtained if a change of control occurs, which could result in the termination of such agreements. 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 forfeiture 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. 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 and more legal and contractual restrictions than that to which we would otherwise be subject if we had just one line of business. In addressing these conflicts and regulatory, legal and contractual 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 purposes of identifying and managing attractive investments. 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 or issuers in which our affiliates may hold an interest. As a consequence of such policies and procedures, 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. Investment manager conflicts of interest continue to be a significant area of focus for regulators and the media. Because of our size and the variety of businesses that we pursue, we may face a higher degree of scrutiny compared with investment managers that are smaller or focus on fewer asset classes. A decision to acquire material 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/or investment strategies that are more narrowly focused, and potential conflicts may arise with respect to our decisions regarding how to

 

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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, specific nature of the investment or size and type of the investment, among other factors. In addition, the challenge of allocating investment opportunities to certain funds may be exacerbated as we expand our business to include more lines of business, including more public vehicles. We may also cause different 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 we would have to carefully manage that conflict. Our affiliates may be service providers or counterparties to our funds or portfolio companies and receive fees or other compensation for services that are not shared with our fund investors. In such instances, we may be incentivized to cause our funds or portfolio companies to purchase such services from our affiliates rather than an unaffiliated service provider despite the fact that a third party service provider could potentially provide higher quality services or offer them at a lower cost. In addition, conflicts of interest may exist in the valuation of our investments and regarding decisions about the allocation of specific investment and co-investment opportunities among us, our funds and our affiliates, as well as the allocation of fees and expenses among us, our funds and their portfolio companies, and our affiliates. 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 fail to appropriately deal with these, among other, conflicts, it could negatively impact our reputation and ability to raise additional funds or result in potential litigation or regulatory action against us.

Conflicts of interest may arise in our allocation of co-investment opportunities.

As a general matter, our allocation of co-investment opportunities is within our discretion and there can be no assurance that co-investments of any particular type or amount will be allocated to any of our funds or investors. There can be no assurance that co-investments will become available and we will take into account a variety of factors and considerations we deem relevant in allocating co-investment opportunities, including, without limitation, whether a potential co-investor has expressed an interest in evaluating co-investment opportunities, our assessment of a potential co-investor’s ability to invest an amount of capital that fits the needs of the investment and our assessment of a potential co-investor’s ability to commit to a co-investment opportunity within the required timeframe of the particular transaction.

Potential conflicts will arise with respect to our decisions regarding how to allocate co-investment opportunities among our funds and investors and the terms of any such co-investments. Our fund documents typically do not mandate specific allocations with respect to co-investments. The investment advisers of our funds may have an incentive to provide co-investment opportunities to certain other Blackstone funds in lieu of investors, or certain investors in lieu of others and/or in lieu of our funds (including, for example, as part of an overall strategic relationship with us) if such allocations are expected to generate relatively greater fees or Performance Allocations to us than would arise if such co-investment opportunities were allocated otherwise. Co-investment arrangements may be structured through one or more of our investment vehicles, and in such circumstances co-investors will generally bear the costs and expenses thereof (which may lead to conflicts of interest regarding the allocation of costs and expenses between such co-investors and investors in our other investment funds). The terms of any such existing and future co-investment vehicles may differ materially, and in some instances may be more favorable to us, than the terms of certain of our funds or prior co-investment vehicles, and such different terms may create an incentive for us to allocate a greater or lesser percentage of an investment opportunity to such funds or such co-investment vehicles, as the case may be. Such incentives will from time to time give rise to conflicts of interest. There can be no assurance that any conflicts of interest will be resolved in favor of any particular investment funds or investors (including any applicable co-investors).

 

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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 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 income 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, changes to the taxation of business entities and the deductibility of corporate interest expense, 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. 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

 

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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 investment fund within the portfolio company’s “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 investment fund could be a “trade or business” for ERISA purposes based on certain factors, including the fund’s level of involvement in the management of its portfolio companies and the nature of its management fee arrangements. 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 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.

Investments in energy, manufacturing, infrastructure, real estate and certain other assets may expose us to increased environmental liabilities that are inherent in the ownership of real assets.

Ownership of real assets in our funds or vehicles may increase our risk of liability under environmental laws that impose, regardless of fault, joint and several liability for the cost of remediating contamination and compensation for damages. In addition, changes in environmental laws or regulations or the environmental condition of an investment may create liabilities that did not exist at the time of acquisition. Even in cases where we are indemnified by a seller against liabilities arising out of violations of environmental laws and regulations, there can be no assurance as to the financial viability of the seller to satisfy such indemnities or our ability to achieve enforcement of such indemnities.

Investments by our funds in the power and energy industries involve various operational, construction, regulatory and market risks that may expose us to increased risks.

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

 

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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 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.

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.

Our investments in infrastructure assets may expose us to increased risks that are inherent in the ownership of real assets and may expose certain non-U.S. unitholders to adverse tax consequences.

Investments in infrastructure assets may expose us to increased risks that are inherent in the ownership of real assets. For example,

 

   

Ownership of infrastructure assets may present risk of liability for personal and property injury or impose significant operating challenges and costs with respect to, for example, compliance with zoning, environmental or other applicable laws.

 

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Infrastructure asset investments may face construction risks including, without limitation: (a) labor disputes, shortages of material and skilled labor, or work stoppages, (b) slower than projected construction progress and the unavailability or late delivery of necessary equipment, (c) less than optimal coordination with public utilities in the relocation of their facilities, (d) adverse weather conditions and unexpected construction conditions, (e) accidents or the breakdown or failure of construction equipment or processes; and (f) catastrophic events such as explosions, fires, terrorist activities and other similar events. These risks could result in substantial unanticipated delays or expenses (which may exceed expected or forecasted budgets) and, under certain circumstances, could prevent completion of construction activities once undertaken. Certain infrastructure asset investments may remain in construction phases for a prolonged period and, accordingly, may not be cash generative for a prolonged period. Recourse against the contractor may be subject to liability caps or may be subject to default or insolvency on the part of the contractor.

 

   

The operation of infrastructure assets is exposed to potential unplanned interruptions caused by significant catastrophic or force majeure events. These risks could, among other effects, adversely impact the cash flows available from investments in infrastructure assets, cause personal injury or loss of life, damage property, or instigate disruptions of service. In addition, the cost of repairing or replacing damaged assets could be considerable. Repeated or prolonged service interruptions may result in permanent loss of customers, litigation, or penalties for regulatory or contractual noncompliance. Force majeure events that are incapable of, or too costly to, cure may also have a permanent adverse effect on an investment.

 

   

The management of the business or operations of an infrastructure asset may be contracted to a third party management company unaffiliated with us. Although it would be possible to replace any such operator, the failure of such an operator to adequately perform its duties or to act in ways that are in our best interest, or the breach by an operator of applicable agreements or laws, rules and regulations, could have an adverse effect on the investment’s financial condition or results of operations. Infrastructure investments may involve the subcontracting of design and construction activities in respect of projects, and as a result our investments are subject to the risks that contractual provisions passing liabilities to a subcontractor could be ineffective, the subcontractor fails to perform services which it has agreed to perform and the subcontractor becomes insolvent.

Infrastructure investments often involve an ongoing commitment to a municipal, state, federal or foreign government or regulatory agencies. The nature of these obligations expose us to a higher level of regulatory control than typically imposed on other businesses and may require us to rely on complex government licenses, concessions, leases or contracts, which may be difficult to obtain or maintain. Infrastructure investments may require operators to manage such investments and such operators’ failure to comply with laws, including prohibitions against bribing of government officials, may adversely affect the value of such investments and cause us serious reputational and legal harm. Revenues for such investments may rely on contractual agreements for the provision of services with a limited number of counterparties, and are consequently subject to counterparty default risk. The operations and cash flow of infrastructure investments are also more sensitive to inflation and, in certain cases, commodity price risk. Furthermore, services provided by infrastructure investments may be subject to rate regulations by government entities that determine or limit prices that may be charged. Similarly, users of applicable services or government entities in response to such users may react negatively to any adjustments in rates and thus reduce the profitability of such infrastructure investments.

In addition, investments in infrastructure assets may cause adverse tax consequences for certain non-U.S. unitholders regarding income effectively connected with the conduct of a U.S. trade or business and the imposition of certain tax withholding. See “— Risks Related to United States Taxation — Non-U.S. persons face unique U.S. tax issues from owning common units that may result in adverse tax consequences to them.” Moreover, investments in infrastructure assets may also require all our unitholders to file tax returns and pay taxes in various state and local jurisdictions in the U.S. and abroad where these infrastructure assets are located. See “— Risks Related to United States Taxation — Common unitholders will be subject to state and local taxes and return filing requirements as a result of investing in our common units.”

 

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Our investments in the life science industry may expose us to increased risks.

On November 30, 2018, we closed the Clarus Acquisition and announced the launch of BXLS, a private investment platform with capabilities to invest across the life-cycle of companies and products within the key life sciences sectors. Life sciences investing may expose us to increased risks. For example,

 

   

Clarus’ fund strategies have included, and we intend BXLS’s strategies to include, among others, investments that are referred to as “defined exit” transactions. Defined exit transactions are risk-sharing collaborations with large pharmaceutical partners on drug development programs and investments in royalty streams of pre-commercial pharmaceutical products. Clarus’ ability to source defined exit transactions has been, and BXLS’s ability to source defined exit transactions will be, in part dependent on the ability of three special purpose development companies to identify, diligence, negotiate and in many cases, take the lead in executing the agreed development plans with respect to, a defined exit transaction. Moreover, as such special purpose development companies are jointly owned by us and two unaffiliated life sciences investors, we (and our funds) are not the sole beneficiaries of such sourcing strategies and capabilities of such special purpose development companies.

 

   

Life sciences and healthcare companies are subject to extensive regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, similar foreign regulatory authorities and, to a lesser extent, other federal and state agencies, prior to marketing their products to the public. These companies are subject to the expense, delay and uncertainty of the approval process, and there can be no guarantee that a particular product will obtain regulatory approval. In addition, the current regulatory framework may change or additional regulations may arise at any stage during the product development phase of an investment, which may delay or prevent regulatory approval. If a company in which our funds are invested is unable to obtain regulatory approval for its product, or a product in which our funds are invested does not obtain regulatory approval, in a timely fashion or at all, the value of our investment would be adversely impacted. In addition, in connection with certain defined exit transactions, our special purpose development companies will be contractually obligated to run clinical trials. In the event such clinical trials do not comply with the complicated regulatory requirements applicable thereto, such special purpose development companies may be subject to regulatory actions.

 

   

Intellectual property often constitutes an important part of a life sciences company’s assets and competitive strengths, particularly for royalty monetization transactions. To the extent such companies’ intellectual property positions with respect to products in which BXLS invests, whether through a royalty or otherwise, are challenged, invalidated or circumvented, the value of BXLS’s investment may be impaired. The success of a life sciences investment depends in part on the ability of the pharmaceutical or other life sciences companies in whose products BXLS invests to obtain and defend patent rights and other intellectual property rights that are important to the commercialization of such products. The patent positions of such companies can be highly uncertain and often involve complex legal, scientific and factual questions.

 

   

The commercial success of products could be compromised if governmental or third party payers do not provide coverage and reimbursement, breach, rescind or modify their contracts or reimbursement policies or delay payments for such products. In both the U.S. and foreign markets, the successful sale of a life sciences company’s product depends on the ability to obtain and maintain adequate coverage and reimbursement from third party payers, including government healthcare programs and private insurance plans. Governments and third party payers continue to pursue aggressive initiatives to contain costs and manage drug utilization and are increasingly focused on the effectiveness, benefits and costs of similar treatments, which could result in lower reimbursement rates and narrower populations for whom the products in which BXLS invests will be reimbursed by payers. To the extent an investment made by BXLS relies in whole or in part on royalties or other payments based on product sales, adequate third party payer reimbursement may not be available to enable price levels for the product sufficient for BXLS to realize an appropriate return on the investment.

 

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Our provision of products to insurance companies, including through Blackstone Insurance Solutions, subjects us to a variety of risks and uncertainties.

Blackstone Insurance Solutions, or BIS, is a platform that we established relating to Blackstone’s development, distribution and management of tailored solutions for insurance companies worldwide. BIS seeks to deliver to insurance companies customizable and diversified portfolios of Blackstone products across asset classes, as well as the option for full management of insurance companies’ investment portfolios, and is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties. BIS currently manages over $23.9 billion for Fidelity & Guaranty Life Insurance Company and certain of its affiliates pursuant to several investment management agreements. In addition, in July 2017, Blackstone and AXIS Capital co-sponsored the establishment of Harrington Reinsurance, a Bermuda property & casualty reinsurance company and BIS currently manages all general account assets of Harrington Reinsurance. BIS also manages or sub-manages assets for certain insurance-dedicated funds and is currently developing other capital efficient and tailored products for insurance companies. The success of BIS will depend in large part on further developing investment partnerships with insurance company clients and maintaining existing asset management arrangements, including those described above. If we fail to deliver high quality, high performing products that help our insurance company clients meet long-term policyholder obligations, BIS may not be successful in retaining existing investment partnerships, developing new investment partnerships or selling its capital efficient products and such failure may have a material adverse effect on our business, results and financial condition.

The U.S. and non-U.S. insurance industries are subject to significant regulatory oversight. Regulatory authorities in many relevant jurisdictions have broad administrative, and in some cases discretionary, authority with respect to insurance companies and/or their investment advisors, which may include, among other things, the investments insurance companies may acquire and hold, marketing practices, affiliate transactions, reserve requirements and capital adequacy. These requirements are primarily concerned with the protection of policyholders, and regulatory authorities often have wide discretion in applying the relevant restrictions and regulations to insurance companies, which may indirectly affect BIS and other Blackstone businesses that offer products to insurance companies. We may be the target or subject of, or may have indemnification obligations related to, litigation (including class action litigation by policyholders), enforcement investigations or regulatory scrutiny. Regulators and other authorities generally have the power to bring administrative or judicial proceedings against insurance companies, which could result in, among other things, suspension or revocation of licenses, cease and desist orders, fines, civil penalties, criminal penalties or other disciplinary action. To the extent BIS or another Blackstone business that offers products to insurance companies is directly or indirectly involved in such regulatory actions, our reputation could be harmed, we may become liable for indemnification obligations and we could potentially be subject to enforcement actions, fines and penalties.

Some of the arrangements we have or will develop with insurance companies involve complex U.S. and non-U.S. tax structures for which no clear precedent or authority may be available. Such structures may be subject to potential legislative, judicial or administrative change and differing interpretations and any adverse legislative, judicial or administrative changes or interpretations may result in substantial costs to insurance companies or BIS. In some cases we may agree to indemnify insurance companies for their losses resulting from any such adverse changes or interpretations.

Insurance company investment portfolios are often subject to internal and regulatory requirements governing the categories and ratings of investment products they may acquire and hold. Many of the investment products we develop for, or other assets or investments we include in, insurance company portfolios will be rated and a ratings downgrade or any other negative action by a rating agency with respect to such products, assets or investments could make them less attractive and limit our ability to offer such products to, or invest or deploy capital on behalf of, insurers.

Any failure to properly manage or address the foregoing risks may have a material adverse effect on our business, results and financial condition.

 

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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 of which 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 our funds will dispose of investments prior to dissolution or that investments will be suitable for in-kind distribution at dissolution, we may not be able to do so. The general partners of our funds have only a limited ability to extend the term of the fund with the consent of fund investors or the advisory board of the fund, as applicable, and therefore, we may be required to sell, distribute or otherwise dispose of investments at a disadvantageous time prior to 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, real estate debt and other hedge funds and similar products, are subject to numerous additional risks, including the following:

 

   

Certain of the funds in which we invest 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, the execution of these hedge funds’ investment strategies is subject to the sole discretion of the management company or the general partner of such funds.

 

   

Hedge funds may engage in speculative trading strategies, including 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 or cover its positions.

 

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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 or otherwise, 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 event of trading halts or daily price movement limits on the market or otherwise. Any “gate” or similar limitation on withdrawals with respect to hedge funds may not be effective in mitigating such risk. 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 and prevailing exchange rates. 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

 

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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.

As a result of their affiliation with us, our hedge funds may from time to time be restricted from trading in certain securities (e.g., publicly traded securities issued by our current or potential portfolio companies). This may limit their ability to acquire and/or subsequently dispose of investments in connection with transactions that would otherwise generally be permitted in the absence of such affiliation.

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 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 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.

 

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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, in certain areas the number of counterparties we face has increased and may continue to increase, which may result in increased complexity and monitoring costs. Conversely, in certain other areas, 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.

Blackstone Advisory Partners L.P. may act as an underwriter, syndicator or placement agent in securities offerings and, through affiliated entities, loan syndications. We may incur losses and be subject to reputational harm to the extent that, for any reason, we are unable to sell securities or indebtedness we purchased or placed as an underwriter, syndicator or placement agent at the anticipated price levels or at all. As an underwriter, syndicator or placement agent, we also may be subject to liability for material misstatements or omissions in prospectuses and other offering documents relating to offerings we underwrite, syndicate or place.

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 founding member, Jonathan D. Gray 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 limited liability matters. As of December 31, 2018, Blackstone Partners L.L.C., an entity wholly owned by our personnel and others who are limited partners, had 44.4% 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 effectively control us and will effectively 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.

 

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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 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,

 

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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.”

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.

 

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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.”

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 of Form 10-K. 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.

 

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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 and 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.

The amortization of finite-lived intangible assets and non-cash equity-based compensation results in 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 of December 31, 2018, we have $468.5 million of finite-lived intangible assets (in addition to $1.9 billion of goodwill), net of accumulated amortization. These finite-lived intangible assets are from the IPO and subsequent business acquisitions. 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 8.6 years as of December 31, 2018. We also record non-cash equity-based compensation from grants made in the ordinary course of business and in connection with other business acquisitions. The amortization of these finite-lived intangible assets and of this non-cash equity-based compensation will increase our expenses 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. A substantial and sustained decline in our share price could result in an impairment of intangible assets or goodwill leading to a further reduction in net income or increase to net loss in the relevant period.

 

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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 taxpayer actually realizes 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 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 taxpayer’s actual cash tax savings. The corporate taxpayer’s 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.

 

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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 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 658,590,547 voting common units outstanding as of February 22, 2019.

 

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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 488,222,302 Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units outstanding as of February 22, 2019. 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.

As of February 22, 2019, we had granted 16,447,908 outstanding deferred restricted common units and 33,483,874 outstanding deferred restricted Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units to our non-senior managing director professionals and senior managing directors under The Blackstone Group L.P. Amended and Restated 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 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 169,816,710 additional common units and Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units were available for grant under our 2007 Equity Incentive Plan as of February 22, 2019. 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 connection with the Clarus Acquisition, we have agreed to issue 150,617 common units and 2,553,532 Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units as deferred consideration to certain Clarus-affiliated personnel. These common units and Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units will be issued in installments to the recipients on the third, fourth and fifth anniversaries of the closing of the Clarus Acquisition.

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

 

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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 longer three-year holding period requirement for carried interest to be treated as long-term capital gain under the Tax Reform Bill) and adversely affect an investment in our common units. See, for example, the discussion above under “— In past years, there have been legislative proposals to tax certain publically traded partnerships as corporations. If these proposals were enacted and applied to us, our effective tax rate could increase significantly.”

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. Our general partner may, without the consent of the unitholders, take actions that would cause us to be taxed as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Such actions could result in a taxable event to our unitholders where gain or loss is recognized. In addition, among other potential adverse consequences, becoming taxed as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes would subject all of our future net income to a level of corporate tax, which may reduce the amount of cash available for distribution or reinvestment.

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

 

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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 may be substantially reduced and the value of our common units would be adversely affected.

We are currently 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 common unitholders. Because a tax would be imposed upon us as a corporation, our distributions to our common unitholders may be substantially reduced, which could cause a substantial reduction in the value of our common units. The same changes would result if our general partner caused us to be taxed as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

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, for example, “— In past years, there have been legislative proposals to tax certain publically traded partnerships as corporations. If these proposals were enacted and applied to us, our effective tax rate could increase significantly,” and “— States and local jurisdictions have considered and are considering changes to the income tax treatment of carried interest and partnerships generally that could if enacted cause us to incur a material increase in our tax liability and/or cause carried interest or other income allocable to holders of our common units to be subject to state or local income tax at higher rates than under current law.”

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, and assuming there is no change in law or relevant change in our structure, 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

 

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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.

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

 

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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 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 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. Any gain recognized by a non-U.S. holder on the sale or exchange of common units that is deemed to be effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business will also be treated as ECI. Under the Tax Reform Bill, unless an applicable non-foreign person affidavit is furnished or another exception applies, if any portion of gain, on a disposition of an interest in us would be treated as ECI, the transferee of an interest in us is required to withhold 10% of the amount realized on such disposition (and we could be required to withhold from future distributions to the transferee if the transferee fails to properly withhold). The U.S. Treasury Department and IRS have announced the temporary suspension of such withholding tax provisions with respect to any disposition of an interest in a publicly traded partnership until regulations or other guidance has been issued. Such withholding tax provisions, when effective for publicly traded partnerships, could impose material tax and administrative burdens on us and our unitholders.

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

 

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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.

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 of all U.S. federal, state and local tax returns that may be required of a common unitholder is the responsibility of such common unitholder.

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 tax 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 unitholders 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. 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.

 

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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 be conducted at the partnership level, 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 an 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.

 

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, 2018, we also leased offices in Dublin, Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and 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 legal (including judicial, regulatory, 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.

In December 2017, a purported derivative suit (Mayberry v. KKR & Co., L.P., et al.) was filed in the Commonwealth of Kentucky Franklin County Circuit Court on behalf of the Kentucky Retirement System (“KRS”) by eight of its members and beneficiaries alleging various breaches of fiduciary duty and other violations of Kentucky state law in connection with KRS’s investment in three hedge funds of funds, including a fund managed by Blackstone Alternative Asset Management L.P. (“BAAM L.P.”). The suit names more than 30 defendants, including The Blackstone Group L.P.; BAAM L.P.; Stephen A. Schwarzman, as Chairman and CEO of Blackstone; and J. Tomilson Hill, as then-President and CEO of the Hedge Fund Solutions Group, Vice Chairman of Blackstone and CEO of BAAM (collectively, the “Blackstone Defendants”). Aside from the Blackstone Defendants, the action also names current and former KRS trustees and former KRS officers and various other service providers to KRS and their related persons.

 

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The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint in January 2018. In November 2018, the Circuit Court granted one defendant’s motion to dismiss and denied all other defendants’ motions to dismiss, including those of the Blackstone Defendants. In January 2019, certain of the KRS trustee and officer defendants noticed appeals from the denial of the motions to dismiss to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, and also filed a motion to stay the Mayberry proceedings in Circuit Court pending the outcome of those appeals. In addition, several defendants, including Blackstone and BAAM L.P., filed petitions in the Kentucky Court of Appeals for a writ of prohibition against the ongoing Mayberry proceedings on the ground that the plaintiffs lack standing.

Blackstone believes that this suit is totally without merit and intends to defend it vigorously.

 

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 22, 2019 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 quarterly per unit common unitholder distributions earned for the periods indicated. Each quarter’s distributions are declared and paid in the following quarter.

 

     2018      2017  

First Quarter

   $ 0.35      $ 0.87  

Second Quarter

     0.58        0.54  

Third Quarter

     0.64        0.44  

Fourth Quarter

     0.58        0.85  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 
   $ 2.15      $ 2.70  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Cash Distribution Policy

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 and 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.

For Blackstone’s definition of Distributable Earnings, see “— Key Financial Measures and Indicators” in the “— Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”

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.

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.

 

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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 2018

The following table sets forth information regarding repurchases of our common units during the quarter ended December 31, 2018:

 

Period

   Total Number
of Units
Purchased
     Average
Price Paid
per Unit
     Total Number of Units
Purchased as Part of
Publicly Announced
Plans or Programs (a)
     Approximate Dollar
Value of Units that
May Yet Be Purchased
Under the Program
(Dollars in Thousands) (a)
 

Oct. 1 - Oct. 31, 2018

     1,366,666      $ 31.97        1,366,666      $ 666,241  

Nov. 1 - Nov. 30, 2018

     4,228,700      $ 33.45        4,228,700      $ 524,797  

Dec. 1 - Dec. 31, 2018

     2,204,634      $ 30.07        2,204,634      $ 458,499  
  

 

 

       

 

 

    
     7,800,000           7,800,000     
  

 

 

       

 

 

    

 

(a)

On April 16, 2018, the Board of Directors of our general partner, Blackstone Group Management L.L.C., authorized the repurchase of up to $1.0 billion of Blackstone common units and Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units. Under the 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 units repurchased will depend on a variety of factors, including legal requirements, price and economic and market conditions. The unit repurchase program may be changed, suspended or discontinued at any time and does not have a specified expiration date. 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.

 

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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.

Recent Sale of Unregistered Securities

On November 30, 2018, Blackstone closed the Clarus Acquisition. In connection with the Clarus Acquisition, certain management and other equityholders of Clarus acquired an aggregate of 1,506,163 Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units, which are exchangeable on a one-for-one basis for common units representing limited partner interests in The Blackstone Group L.P. The Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units and the underlying common units were not registered under the Securities Act and were issued in reliance upon the exemption from registration provided by Section 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act on the basis that such issuance did not involve any public offering.

 

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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, 2018 have been derived from our consolidated financial statements. The audited Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition as of December 31, 2018 and 2017 and the Consolidated Statements of Operations for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016 are included in “Part II. Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this filing. The audited Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition as of December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014 and the Consolidated Statements of Operations for the years ended December 31, 2015 and 2014 are not included in this Form 10-K. Historical results are not necessarily indicative of results for any future period.

Effective January 1, 2018, Blackstone adopted new GAAP guidance on revenue recognition and implemented a change in accounting principal related to carried interest and incentive allocations, which are now accounted for under the GAAP guidance for equity method investments and are presented within Total Investment Income in the table below. Historical results for 2017 and 2016 have been recast to reflect these changes, while historical results for 2015 and 2014 have not been recast to reflect the adopted guidance. A complete description of the changes can be found in Note 2. “Summary of Significant Accounting Policies — Recent Accounting Developments” in the “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” in “Part II. Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this filing.

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,  
    2018     2017     2016     2015     2014  
    (Dollars in Thousands)  

Revenues

         

Management and Advisory Fees, Net

  $ 3,027,796     $ 2,751,322     $ 2,464,290     $ 2,542,505     $ 2,497,252  

Incentive Fees

    57,540       242,514       149,928       156,378       156,235  

Total Investment Income

    2,903,659       4,144,712       2,381,604       1,844,930       4,752,027  

Interest and Dividend Revenue and Other

    844,264       6,467       150,477       102,739       79,214  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Revenues

    6,833,259       7,145,015       5,146,299       4,646,552       7,484,728  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Expenses

         

Total Compensation and Benefits

    2,674,691       2,933,523       2,202,986       2,290,751       3,154,371  

General, Administrative and Other

    594,873       488,582       541,624       576,103       549,463  

Interest Expense

    163,990       197,486       152,654       144,522       121,524  

Fund Expenses

    78,486       132,787       52,181       79,499       30,498  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Expenses

    3,512,040       3,752,378       2,949,445       3,090,875       3,855,856  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Other Income

         

Reduction of Tax Receivable Agreement Liability

    —          403,855       —          82,707       —     

Net Gains from Fund Investment Activities

    191,722       321,597       184,750       176,364       357,854  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Other Income

    191,722       725,452       184,750       259,071       357,854  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income Before Provision for Taxes

    3,512,941       4,118,089       2,381,604       1,814,748       3,986,726  

Provision for Taxes

    249,390       743,147       132,362       190,398       291,173  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Income

    3,263,551       3,374,942       2,249,242       1,624,350       3,695,553  

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

    (2,104     13,806       3,977       11,145       74,794  

Net Income Attributable to Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities

    358,878       497,439       246,152       219,900       335,070  

Net Income Attributable to Non-Controlling Interests in Blackstone Holdings

    1,364,989       1,392,323       960,099       683,516       1,701,100  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Income Attributable to The Blackstone Group L.P.

  $ 1,541,788     $ 1,471,374     $ 1,039,014     $ 709,789     $ 1,584,589  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

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    Year Ended December 31,  
    2018     2017     2016     2015     2014  
    (Dollars in Thousands)  

Net Income Per Common Unit, Basic and Diluted

         

Common Units, Basic

  $ 2.27     $ 2.21     $ 1.60     $ 1.12     $ 2.60  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Common Units, Diluted

  $ 2.26     $ 2.21     $ 1.56     $ 1.04     $ 2.58  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Distributions Declared Per Common Unit (a)

  $ 2.42     $ 2.32     $ 1.66     $ 2.90     $ 1.92  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(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,  
    2018     2017     2016     2015     2014  
    (Dollars in Thousands)  

Statement of Financial Condition Data

         

Total Assets (a)

  $ 28,924,650     $ 34,415,919     $ 26,386,650     $ 22,526,080     $ 31,497,097  

Senior Notes

  $ 3,471,151     $ 3,514,815     $ 3,399,922     $ 2,797,060     $ 2,136,706  

Total Liabilities (a)

  $ 15,170,564     $ 20,692,828     $ 13,879,169     $ 10,295,623     $ 14,163,550  

Redeemable Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities (a)

  $ 141,779     $ 210,944     $ 185,390     $ 183,459     $ 2,441,854  

Total Partners’ Capital

  $ 13,612,307     $ 13,512,147     $ 12,322,091     $ 12,046,998     $ 14,891,693  

 

(a)

The decrease in Total Assets and Total Liabilities from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2018 is primarily due to the deconsolidation of CLOs and other fund entities, partially offset by the launch of new consolidated CLOs. The increase in Total Assets and Total Liabilities from December 31, 2016 to December 31, 2017 is principally due to new consolidated CLO vehicles managed by our Credit segment. 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:

 

   

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 real estate investment team seeks to establish a differentiated view and capitalizes on our scale and proprietary information advantages to invest with conviction and generate attractive risk-adjusted returns for our investors over the long-term.

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, industrial assets, residential and shopping centers, as well as a variety of real estate operating companies.

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. We manage several core+ real estate funds, which target substantially stabilized assets in prime markets with a focus on industrial, multifamily, office and retail assets.

BREIT, a non-exchange traded real estate investment trust (“REIT”), is focused on investing primarily in stabilized income-oriented commercial real estate in the U.S.

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.

 

   

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 and a geographically-focused fund, since we established this business in 1987. Our Private Equity segment includes our corporate private equity business, which consists of (a) our flagship private equity funds (Blackstone Capital Partners (“BCP”) funds), (b) our sector-focused private equity funds, including our energy-focused funds (Blackstone Energy Partners (“BEP”) funds), (c) our Asia-focused fund (Blackstone Capital Partners Asia (“BCP Asia”) fund) and (d) our core private equity fund, Blackstone Core Equity Partners (“BCEP”). In addition, our Private Equity segment includes (a) our opportunistic investment platform that invests globally across asset classes, industries and geographies, Blackstone Tactical Opportunities (“Tactical Opportunities”), (b) our secondary fund of funds business, Strategic Partners Fund Solutions (“Strategic Partners”), (c) our infrastructure-focused funds, Blackstone Infrastructure Partners (“BIP”), (d) our life sciences private investment platform, Blackstone Life Sciences (“BXLS”), (e) 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 Solution (“BTAS”) and (f) 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

 

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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). Within our corporate private equity business, our core private equity fund 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. Tactical Opportunities invests globally across asset classes, industries and geographies, seeking to identify and execute on attractive, differentiated investment opportunities, leveraging the intellectual capital across our various businesses while continuously optimizing its approach in the face of ever-changing market conditions. Strategic Partners is a total fund solutions provider that acquires interests in high quality private funds from original holders seeking liquidity, co-investments alongside financial sponsors and provides investment advisory services to clients investing in primary and secondary investments in private funds and co-investments. BIP focuses on infrastructure investments in the energy, transportation, communications and water and waste sectors.

 

   

Hedge Fund Solutions. The largest component of our Hedge Fund Solutions segment is Blackstone Alternative Asset Management (“BAAM”). BAAM is the world’s largest discretionary allocator to hedge funds, managing a broad range of commingled and customized 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 the form of mutual funds and UCITS and trade directly.

 

   

Credit. Our Credit segment consists principally of GSO Capital Partners LP (“GSO”). GSO is one of the largest credit alternative asset managers in the world and is the largest manager of collateralized loan obligations (“CLOs”) globally. The investment portfolios of the funds GSO manages or sub-advises 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, middle market direct lending funds and other performing credit strategy funds. Our distressed strategies include credit alpha strategies, stressed/distressed funds and energy strategies. GSO’s long only strategies consist of CLOs, closed end funds, open ended funds and separately managed accounts.

In addition, our Credit segment includes our publicly traded master limited partnership (“MLP”) investment platform, which is managed by Harvest. Harvest, which was founded in 2005 and subsequently acquired by Blackstone in 2017, primarily invests capital raised from institutional investors in separately managed accounts and pooled vehicles, investing in publicly traded MLPs holding primarily midstream energy assets in the U.S.

Our insurer-focused platform, BIS, also a part of our Credit segment, delivers to insurers bespoke, capital efficient investments and diversified portfolios of Blackstone products across asset classes tailored to their needs and risk profile.

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 we are entitled to a pro-rata share of the results of the fund (a “pro-rata allocation”). In addition to a pro-rata allocation, and assuming certain investment returns are achieved, we are entitled to a disproportionate allocation of the income otherwise allocable to the limited partners, commonly referred to as carried interest (“Performance Allocations”). In certain structures, we receive a contractual, incentive fee from an investment fund in the event that specified cumulative investment returns are achieved (an “Incentive Fee”, and together with Performance Allocations, “Performance Revenues”). 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

 

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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.

For the first three quarters of 2018, equity indices rose in the U.S., supported by continued healthy economic growth and additional benefits to corporate earnings from the Tax Reform Bill. After reaching record highs in September, U.S. equity indices declined sharply and volatility spiked, as investor sentiment turned negative due to signs of slowing global economic growth, continued monetary policy tightening in the U.S., and concerns over the impact of trade disputes, particularly between the U.S. and China. While underlying fundamentals in the U.S. remain positive, most economists expect slower U.S. and global growth in the near term. The S&P 500 ended the year down 4%, while the Dow and Nasdaq declined 6% and 4%, respectively. During the first six weeks of 2019, U.S. equity markets rebounded and volatility declined.

Globally, other equity indices also declined. The MSCI World index ended the year down 10% while the MSCI Europe index declined 17% and the MSCI Asia index declined 16%. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index was down 17% for the year.

In Europe, economic growth continues to slow amid lower manufacturing exports and ongoing political unrest. As concerns over Brexit persisted, the FTSE 100 declined, ending the year down 13%, with the British pound down 6% versus the U.S. dollar.

In Asia, slower growth, along with trade conflicts and rising U.S. interest rates, contributed to market declines. The Hang Seng index fell 14% and the Nikkei declined 12% for the year. In Japan, GDP contracted in the first quarter of 2018, the first decline since 2015, as private consumption waned. In China, equities posted their worst decline since 2011 amid decelerating economic growth.

The CBOE volatility index more than doubled in 2018, reaching 36.07 in December, before ending the year at 25.42, up 130%. Oil prices declined significantly in the fourth quarter of 2018, with West Texas Intermediate Crude falling 38% to $45 per barrel, down 25% for the year. The S&P 500 Energy Index ended the year down 21% and the Bloomberg Commodity Index declined 13% while the Henry Hub Natural Gas spot price was flat for the year. Despite facing pressure in 2018, oil prices and energy indices both rebounded sharply in the first six weeks of 2019.

In fixed income, the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate was flat, U.S. investment grade corporates were down 2.5% and high yield corporates declined 2.1% during the year. The U.S. Federal Reserve continued monetary tightening and raised interest rates four times in 2018, with the current target range set to 2.25-2.5%, but indicated they would be patient with regard to any future adjustments. 10-year U.S. Treasury yields rose to 3.24% in November, the highest level in more than four years, prompting investor concerns over the potential negative impact to values of fixed income and longer duration assets. High yield spreads widened 181 basis points during the year and issuance decreased 39% year over year. Global equity capital markets activity for both initial public offerings and follow-on offerings declined, with year to date 2018 activity down 18% year over year.

U.S. merger and acquisition (“M&A”) volume rose 16% during the year, following a strong backlog after the passage of the Tax Reform Bill. Global M&A volume reached $3.4 trillion, its highest level since 2015, and the outlook for deal activity remains positive.

Most economists expect moderate, albeit slowing, economic growth characterized by less synchronized global expansion in the near term, with virtually no signals of a recession in the U.S. in 2019. While global trade tensions and geopolitical instability pose additional risks, the broader outlook remains constructive.

 

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Notable Transactions

On April 9, 2018, Blackstone concluded its investment sub-advisory relationship with FS Investments’ funds (the “FS Funds”), as previously announced. At March 31, 2018, the FS Funds represented $20.0 billion of Total Assets Under Management. As part of the transaction, Blackstone received proceeds from FS Investments of $580.9 million which is recorded as Other Revenues within the Consolidated Statement of Operations for the year ended December 31, 2018. This amount is characterized as a Transaction-Related Charge and therefore is not included in Fee Related Earnings, or Distributable Earnings for the year ended December 31, 2018. Blackstone distributed a portion of the after-tax proceeds to unitholders resulting in an incremental $0.30 per common unit and per Blackstone Holdings Partnership Unit over the second, third and fourth quarters of 2018, of which $0.10 per common unit and Blackstone Holdings Partnership Unit was distributed on each of August 6, 2018, November 5, 2018 and February 19, 2019.

On September 21, 2018, Blackstone Holdings Finance Co L.L.C., an indirect subsidiary of the Partnership, entered into an amended and restated $1.6 billion revolving credit facility. The amendment and restatement to the Issuer’s credit facility, among other things, increased the amount of available borrowings and extended the maturity date from August 31, 2021 to September 21, 2023.

On November 30, 2018, Blackstone closed the acquisition of Clarus Ventures, LLC and certain of its affiliates (“Clarus”), a leading global life sciences investment firm that has raised $2.6 billion since its founding. Clarus is focused on funding growth-stage investments, often in partnership with major biopharmaceutical companies through research and development collaborations (the “Clarus Acquisition”). The Clarus Acquisition launched BXLS, a private investment platform with capabilities to invest across the life-cycle of companies and products within the life sciences sector. BXLS is included in our Private Equity segment.

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

 

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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. We prepare our Consolidated Financial Statements in accordance with GAAP. See Note 2. “Summary of Significant Accounting Policies” in the “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” in “— Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” and “— Critical Accounting Policies.” Our key non-GAAP financial measures and operating indicators and metrics are discussed below.

Distributable Earnings

Distributable Earnings, is derived from Blackstone’s segment reported results, and is used 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 is the sum of Segment Distributable Earnings plus Net Interest Income (Loss) less Taxes and Related Payables. Distributable Earnings excludes unrealized activity and is derived from and reconciled to, but not equivalent to, its most directly comparable GAAP measure of Income (Loss) Before Provision for Taxes. See “— Non-GAAP Financial Measures” for our reconciliation of Distributable Earnings.

Net Interest Income (Loss) is presented on a segment basis and is equal to Interest and Dividend Revenue less Interest Expense, adjusted for the impact of consolidation of Blackstone Funds, and interest expense associated with the Tax Receivable Agreement.

Taxes and Related Payables represent the total GAAP tax provision adjusted to include only the current tax provision (benefit) calculated on Income (Loss) Before Provision for Taxes excluding the tax impact of any divestitures and including the Payable under the Tax Receivable Agreement.

Segment Distributable Earnings

Effective as of and for the three months ended December 31, 2018, Blackstone senior management determined that Segment Distributable Earnings, and not Economic Income, is the measure that it uses to assess the performance of its business segments. Segment Distributable Earnings is used by management to make operating decisions, allocate resources and determine the compensation of employees across all of its business segments. All prior periods have been recast to reflect these updates.

Segment Distributable Earnings is Blackstone’s segment profitability measure used to make operating decisions and assess performance across Blackstone’s four segments. Segment Distributable Earnings represents the net realized earnings of Blackstone’s segments and is the sum of Fee Related Earnings and Net Realizations for each segment. Blackstone’s segments are presented on a basis that deconsolidates Blackstone Funds, eliminates non-controlling ownership interests in Blackstone’s consolidated Operating Partnerships, removes the amortization of intangible assets and removes Transaction-Related Charges. Transaction-Related Charges arise from corporate actions including acquisitions, divestitures and Blackstone’s initial public offering. They consist primarily of equity-based compensation charges, gains and losses on contingent consideration arrangements, changes in the balance of the tax receivable agreement resulting from a change in tax law or similar event, transaction costs and any gains or losses associated with these corporate actions. Segment Distributable Earnings excludes unrealized activity and is derived from and reconciled to, but not equivalent to, its most directly comparable GAAP measure of Income (Loss) Before Provision for Taxes. See “— Non-GAAP Financial Measures” for our reconciliation of Segment Distributable Earnings.

Net Realizations is presented on a segment basis and is the sum of Realized Principal Investment Income and Realized Performance Revenues (which refers to Realized Performance Revenues excluding Fee Related Performance Revenues), less Realized Performance Compensation (which refers to Realized Performance Compensation excluding Fee Related Performance Compensation and Equity-Based Performance Compensation).

 

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Fee Related Earnings

Fee Related Earnings is a performance measure used to assess Blackstone’s ability to generate profits from revenues that are measured and received on a recurring basis and not subject to future realization events. Fee Related Earnings equals management and advisory fees (net of management fee reductions and offsets) plus Fee Related Performance Revenues less (a) Fee Related Compensation on a segment basis, and (b) Other Operating Expenses. Fee Related 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 “— Non-GAAP Financial Measures” for our reconciliation of Fee Related Earnings.

Fee Related Compensation is presented on a segment basis and refers to the compensation expense, excluding Equity-Based Compensation, directly related to Management and Advisory Fees, Net and Fee Related Performance Revenues.

Fee Related Performance Revenues refers to the realized portion of Performance Revenues from Perpetual Capital that are (a) measured and received on a recurring basis, and (b) not dependent on realization events from the underlying investments.

Fee Related Performance Compensation is included in Fee Related Compensation on a segment basis and refers to compensation expense directly related to Fee Related Performance Revenues.

Adjusted Earnings Before Interest, Taxes and Depreciation and Amortization

Adjusted Earnings Before Interest, Taxes and Depreciation and Amortization (“Adjusted EBITDA”), is a supplemental measure used to assess performance derived from Blackstone’s segment results and may be used to assess its ability to service its borrowings. Adjusted EBITDA represents Distributable Earnings plus the addition of (a) Interest Expense on a segment basis, (b) Taxes and Related Payables, and (c) Depreciation and Amortization. Adjusted EBITDA is derived from and reconciled to, but not equivalent to, its most directly comparable GAAP measure of Income (Loss) Before Provision for Taxes. See “— Non-GAAP Financial Measures” for our reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA.

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 (1) 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, or (2) for certain credit-focused funds the amounts available to be borrowed under asset based credit facilities,

 

  (b)

the net asset value of (1) our hedge funds and real estate debt carry funds, BPP, certain co-investments managed by us, and our Hedge Fund Solutions carry and drawdown funds (plus, in each case, the capital that we are entitled to call from investors in those funds, including commitments yet to commence their investment periods), and (2) our funds of hedge funds, our Hedge Fund Solutions registered investment companies, and BREIT,

 

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  (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, funds structured like hedge funds and other open ended 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, excluding our BIS separately managed accounts, 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 fees and/or performance revenues. 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 BREDS and Hedge Fund Solutions funds, the amount of capital commitments, remaining invested capital, fair value, net asset 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, BPP, certain co-investments managed by us, certain registered investment companies, BREIT, and certain of our Hedge Fund Solutions drawdown funds,

 

  (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 revenues 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

 

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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.

Perpetual Capital. Perpetual Capital refers to the component of assets under management with an indefinite term, that is not in liquidation, and for which there is no requirement to return capital to investors through redemption requests in the ordinary course of business, except where funded by new capital inflows. Perpetual Capital includes co-investment capital with an investor right to convert into Perpetual Capital.

Limited Partner Capital Invested. Limited Partner Capital Invested represents the aggregate amount of third party capital invested by our funds and vehicles, including investments closed but not yet funded by investors during each period presented, including (a) capital invested by our carry and drawdown funds and vehicles, (b) certain perpetual capital invested including undistributed proceeds that are reinvested, and (c) capital invested through fee-paying co-investments made by third parties in investments of our carry and perpetual funds and vehicles.

Dry Powder. Dry Powder represents the amount of capital available for investment or reinvestment, including general partner and employee capital, and is an indicator of the capital we have available for future investments.

Performance Revenue Eligible Assets Under Management. Performance Revenue Eligible Assets Under Management represents invested and to be invested capital at fair value, including capital closed for funds whose investment period has not yet commenced, on which performance fees could be earned if certain hurdles are met.

Income Tax Current Developments

Certain past legislative proposals would treat certain publicly traded partnerships as corporations for federal income tax purposes. If similar legislation were enacted and applied to us, we would not qualify as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes. If we were taxed as a corporation, our effective tax rate could increase significantly.

States and other jurisdictions have also considered legislation to increase taxes with respect to carried interest. For example, New Jersey recently enacted legislation which eliminates an exclusion from New Jersey source income (for non-residents) for carried interest and income from providing investment management services, which is not expected to materially affect our common unitholders, and authorizes a contingent 17% surtax on such management income for gross income tax and corporate income tax purposes. These carried interest provisions remain non-operative as they are dependent upon Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts enacting legislation with identical provisions. In addition, New York State recently introduced legislation which would tax income from certain investment management services provided by a partner (whether or not a New York resident), which could cause a non-resident of New York State 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. As part of that legislation, New York also proposed a state tax surcharge of 19% on carried interest in addition to the personal income tax. Similar to the New Jersey legislation, the New York legislation would not take effect until similar legislation is enacted by Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Similar proposals are under consideration in other jurisdictions such as California. Whether or when similar legislation will be enacted is unclear.

 

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Finally, several state and local jurisdictions are evaluating 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. For example, although we believe it would not affect us materially, Connecticut recently enacted an income tax on pass through entities doing business in Connecticut, and states in which we do business may consider similar tax changes. These and other proposals have recently been under heightened consideration in light of U.S. federal income tax legislation, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed into law on December 22, 2017 (the “Tax Reform Bill”).

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.

The Tax Reform Bill has resulted in fundamental changes to the Internal Revenue Code. Changes to U.S. tax laws resulting from the Tax Reform Bill, including reduction to the federal corporate income tax rate, partial limitation on the deductibility of business interest expense, and a longer three-year holding period requirement for carried interest to be treated as long-term capital gain could have an adverse effect on our business operations and our funds’ investment activities. These and other changes from the Tax Reform Bill — including limitations on the use, carryback and carryforward of net operating losses and changes relating to the scope and timing of U.S. taxation on earnings from international business operations — could also have an adverse effect on our portfolio companies. The exact impact of the Tax Reform Bill for future years is difficult to quantify, but these changes could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, other changes could be enacted in the future to increase the corporate tax rate, limit further the deductibility of interest, subject carried interest to more onerous taxation or effect other changes that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

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. Several of the proposed measures are potentially relevant to some of our structures and could have an adverse tax impact on our funds, investors and/or our portfolio companies. Some member countries have been moving forward on the BEPS agenda but, because timing of implementation and the specific measures adopted will vary among participating states, significant uncertainty remains regarding the impact of BEPS proposals. If implemented, these proposals could result in a loss of tax treaty benefits and increased taxes on income from our investments.

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.

 

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These contemplated changes, if adopted by individual countries, could increase tax uncertainty and/or costs faced by us, our portfolio companies and our investors, 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 be conducted at the partnership level, 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 an 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 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.

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, 2018. 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.

 

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The following table sets forth information regarding our consolidated results of operations and certain key operating metrics for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016:

 

    Year Ended December 31,     2018 vs. 2017     2017 vs. 2016  
    2018     2017     2016     $     %     $     %  
    (Dollars in Thousands)  

Revenues

             

Management and Advisory Fees, Net

  $ 3,027,796     $ 2,751,322     $ 2,464,290     $ 276,474       10   $ 287,032       12
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Incentive Fees

    57,540       242,514       149,928       (184,974     -76     92,586       62
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Investment Income (Loss)

             

Performance Allocations

             

Realized

    1,876,507       3,571,811       1,495,439       (1,695,304     -47     2,076,372       139

Unrealized

    561,373       (105,473     530,114       666,846       N/M       (635,587     N/M  

Principal Investments

             

Realized

    415,862       635,769       278,737       (219,907     -35     357,032       128

Unrealized

    49,917       42,605       77,314       7,312       17     (34,709     -45
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Investment Income

    2,903,659       4,144,712       2,381,604       (1,241,053     -30     1,763,108       74
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Interest and Dividend Revenue

    171,947       139,696       95,724       32,251       23     43,972       46

Other

    672,317       (133,229     54,753       805,546       N/M       (187,982     N/M  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Revenues

    6,833,259       7,145,015       5,146,299       (311,756     -4     1,998,716       39
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Expenses

             

Compensation and Benefits

             

Compensation

    1,609,957       1,442,485       1,335,408       167,472       12     107,077       8

Incentive Fee Compensation

    33,916       105,279       68,921       (71,363     -68     36,358       53

Performance Allocations Compensation

             

Realized

    711,076       1,281,965       465,129       (570,889     -45     816,836       176

Unrealized

    319,742       103,794       333,528       215,948       208     (229,734     -69
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Compensation and Benefits

    2,674,691       2,933,523       2,202,986       (258,832     -9     730,537       33

General, Administrative and Other

    594,873       488,582       541,624       106,291       22     (53,042     -10

Interest Expense

    163,990       197,486       152,654       (33,496     -17     44,832       29

Fund Expenses

    78,486       132,787       52,181       (54,301     -41     80,606       154
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Expenses

    3,512,040       3,752,378       2,949,445       (240,338     -6     802,933       27
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Other Income

             

Reduction of Tax Receivable Agreement Liability

    —         403,855       —         (403,855     -100     403,855       N/M  

Net Gains from Fund Investment Activities

    191,722       321,597       184,750       (129,875     -40     136,847       74
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total Other Income

    191,722       725,452       184,750       (533,730     -74     540,702       293
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income Before Provision for Taxes

    3,512,941       4,118,089       2,381,604       (605,148     -15     1,736,485       73

Provision for Taxes

    249,390       743,147       132,362       (493,757     -66     610,785       461
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Income

    3,263,551       3,374,942       2,249,242       (111,391     -3     1,125,700       50

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

    (2,104     13,806       3,977       (15,910     N/M       9,829       247

Net Income Attributable to Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities

    358,878       497,439       246,152       (138,561     -28     251,287       102

Net Income Attributable to Non-Controlling Interests in Blackstone Holdings

    1,364,989       1,392,323       960,099       (27,334     -2     432,224       45
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Income Attributable to The Blackstone Group L.P.

  $ 1,541,788     $ 1,471,374     $ 1,039,014     $ 70,414       5   $ 432,360       42
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

N/M

Not meaningful.

Year Ended December 31, 2018 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2017

Revenues

Revenues were $6.8 billion for the year ended December 31, 2018, a decrease of $311.8 million compared to $7.1 billion for the year ended December 31, 2017. The decrease in Revenues was primarily attributable to decreases of $1.2 billion in Investment Income and $185.0 million in Incentive Fees, partially offset by increases of $805.5 million in Other Revenues and $276.5 million in Management and Advisory Fees, Net.

 

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The decrease in Investment Income was primarily attributable to decreases in our Real Estate, Credit and Hedge Fund Solution segments of $1.2 billion, $272.5 million and $74.0 million, respectively, partially offset by an increase in our Private Equity segment of $363.4 million. The decrease in our Real Estate segment was attributable to lower net appreciation of investment holdings in our BREP funds compared to the comparable 2017 period. For the year ended December 31, 2018, the carrying value of investments for our BREP funds increased 9.8% compared to 19.4% for the year ended December 31, 2017. The decrease in our Credit segment was primarily attributable to the negative impact on 2018 returns as a result of decreases in certain public positions, and volatility in the energy and credit markets. The decrease in our Hedge Fund Solutions segment was primarily due to lower returns in investments of which Blackstone owns a share compared to the year ended December 31, 2017. The increase in our Private Equity segment was driven by corporate private equity. Corporate private equity carrying value increased 19.1% for the year ended December 31, 2018 compared to 17.6% for the year ended December 31, 2017.

The decrease in Incentive Fees was primarily attributable to decreases in our Credit and Hedge Fund Solutions segments of $104.5 million and $84.4 million, respectively. The decrease in our Credit segment was primarily attributable to the conclusion of our sub-advisory relationship with FS Investments. The decrease in our Hedge Fund Solutions segment was driven by lower returns across a number of strategies, including customized solutions, commingled products and individual investor solutions and specialized solutions, compared to the year ended December 31, 2017.

The increase in Other Revenue was primarily due to the fixed payment we received in connection with the conclusion of our sub-advisory relationship with FS Investments’ funds and a foreign exchange gain on our euro denominated bonds.

The increase in Management and Advisory Fees, Net was primarily due to increases in our Real Estate and Private Equity segments of $187.4 million and $65.4 million, respectively. The increase in our Real Estate segment was primarily attributable to increases in Base Management Fees of $113.2 million driven by Assets Under Management growth in core+ and Transaction and Other Fees, Net of $69.7 million, which were due to $27.1 million of BREP breakup fees related to two transactions and increased investment activity in our BREP global funds. The increase in our Private Equity segment was primarily attributable to the launch of BCP Asia and the third vintage of Tactical Opportunities.

Expenses

Expenses were $3.5 billion for the year ended December 31, 2018, a decrease of $240.3 million compared to $3.8 billion for the year ended December 31, 2017. The decrease was primarily attributable to decreases of $258.8 million in Total Compensation and Benefits and $54.3 million in Fund Expenses, partially offset by an increase of $106.3 million in General, Administrative and Other Expenses. The decrease in Total Compensation and Benefits was primarily due to decreases of $354.9 million in Performance Allocations Compensation and $71.4 million in Incentive Fee Compensation, partially offset by an increase of $167.5 million in Compensation. The decrease in Performance Allocations Compensation was primarily due to the decrease in Investment Income. The decrease in Incentive Fee Compensation was primarily due to the decrease in Incentive Fees in our Credit and Hedge Fund Solutions segments, on which a portion of Incentive Fee Compensation is based. The increase in Compensation was due to the increase in Management and Advisory Fees, Net, on which a portion of compensation is based, as well as investment in our infrastructure initiative and a lower deferral on Compensation. The decrease in Fund Expenses was due to a decrease of $55.7 million in our Credit segment primarily from the deconsolidation of certain CLO and other vehicles in 2018. The increase in General, Administrative and Other Expenses was primarily due to the growth in BIS as well as a full year of Harvest-related expenses following our acquisition of Harvest in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Year Ended December 31, 2017 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2016

Revenues

Total Revenues were $7.1 billion for the year ended December 31, 2017, an increase of $2.0 billion compared to $5.1 billion for the year ended December 31, 2016. The increase in Total Revenues was attributable to increases

 

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of $1.8 billion in Investment Income and $287.0 million in Management and Advisory Fees, Net, partially offset by a decrease in Other Revenue of $188.0 million.

The increase in Investment Income was primarily attributable to increases in our Real Estate and Private Equity segments of $966.1 million and $507.7 million, respectively. The increase in our Real Estate segment was primarily attributable to a net increase in the appreciation of investment holdings in our opportunistic funds. For the year ended December 31, 2017, the carrying value of investments for our opportunistic funds increased 19.4% versus 11.1% for the year ended December 31, 2016. Our core+ real estate funds, real estate debt drawdown funds and real estate hedge funds appreciated 12.0%, 14.7% and 8.9%, respectively for the year ended December 31, 2017. The increase in our Private Equity segment was driven by corporate private equity and Tactical Opportunities. Corporate private equity carrying value increased 17.6% in 2017 versus 10.7% for the year ended December 31, 2016. Tactical Opportunities carrying value increased 14.5% in 2017 versus 10.9% for the year ended December 31, 2016.

The increase in Management and Advisory Fees, Net was primarily due to increases in our Private Equity, Real Estate and Credit segments of $204.4 million, $55.9 million and $51.4 million, respectively. The increase in our Private Equity segment was primarily due to assets earning higher base management fees, principally due to the conclusion of a six-month fee holiday for BCP VII in the fourth quarter of 2016. The increase in our Real Estate segment was primarily due to growth in our core+ real estate funds and the launch of BREP Europe V in the fourth quarter of 2016 and the corresponding expiration of its fee holiday in the second quarter of 2017. The increase in our Credit segment was primarily due to our performing credit and energy portfolios, as well as Harvest.

The decrease in Other Revenue was primarily the result of foreign exchange loss on the revaluation of our euro denominated bonds.

Expenses

Expenses were $3.8 billion for the year ended December 31, 2017, an increase of $802.9 million compared to $2.9 billion for the year ended December 31, 2016. The increase was primarily attributable to increases in Performance Allocations Compensation, Compensation and Fund Expenses. The increase of $587.1 million in Performance Allocations Compensation was due to related increases in Investment Income in our Real Estate and Private Equity. The increase of $107.1 million in Compensation was primarily due to the increase in Management and Advisory Fees, Net in our Private Equity, Real Estate and Credit segments, on which a portion of compensation is based. The increase of $80.6 million in Fund Expenses was due to an increase of $73.9 million in our Credit segment. The increase in our Credit segment was primarily the result of newly launched CLOs.

Other Income

Year Ended December 31, 2018 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2017

Other Income was $191.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2018, a decrease of $533.7 million compared to $725.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2017. The decrease in Other Income was due to the absence of the $403.9 million in Reduction of Tax Receivable Agreement Liability that was recognized during the year ended December 31, 2017 and a decrease of $129.9 million in Net Gains from Fund Investment Activities.

The absence of the Other Income — Reduction of Tax Receivable Agreement Liability was primarily due to the reduction in the federal tax rate from 35% to 21% pursuant to the Tax Reform Bill during the year ended December 31, 2017.

The decrease in Other Income — Net Gains from Fund Investment Activities was driven by decreases of $62.5 million in our Credit segment, $58.2 million in our Real Estate segment and $21.4 million in our Hedge Fund Solutions segment, partially offset by an increase of $12.3 million in our Private Equity segment. The decrease in our Credit segment was primarily driven by the deconsolidation of certain CLO and other vehicles in 2018, partially

 

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offset by newly launched CLOs. The decrease in our Real Estate segment was primarily due to a year over year net decrease in the appreciation of investments in our BREP funds. The decrease in our Hedge Fund Solutions segment was primarily due to lower returns across the segment year over year. The increase in our Private Equity segment was primarily due to a year over year net increase in the appreciation of investments in our private equity funds.

Year Ended December 31, 2017 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2016

Other Income was $725.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2017, an increase of $540.7 million compared to $184.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2016. The increase in Other Income was primarily due to increases of $403.9 million in Reduction of Tax Receivable Agreement Liability and $136.8 million in Net Gains from Fund Investment Activities.

Other Income — Reduction of Tax Receivable Agreement Liability was $403.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2017. The Reduction of the Tax Receivable Agreement Liability was primarily attributable to the reduction in the corporate federal tax rate from 35% to 21% pursuant to the Tax Reform Bill.

Other Income — Net Gains from Fund Investment Activities was $321.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2017, an increase of $136.8 million compared to $184.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2016. The increase was principally driven by increases in our Credit and Real Estate segments of $75.2 million and $47.4 million, respectively. The increase in our Credit segment was primarily due to newly launched CLOs. The increase in our Real Estate segment was primarily the result of a year over year net increase in the appreciation of investments across the Real Estate funds.

Provision for Taxes

The following table summarizes Blackstone’s tax position:

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
     2018     2017     2016  

Income Before Provision for Taxes

   $ 3,512,941     $ 4,118,089     $ 2,381,604  

Provision for Taxes

   $ 249,390     $ 743,147     $ 132,362  

Effective Income Tax Rate

     7.1     18.0     5.6

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

 

      Year Ended December 31,     2018  vs.
2017
    2017  vs.
2016
 
     2018     2017     2016  

Statutory U.S. Federal Income Tax Rate

     21.0     35.0     35.0     -14.0     —    

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

     -15.5     -25.9     -28.6     10.4     2.7

State and Local Income Taxes

     1.8     1.5     1.3     0.3     0.2

Equity-Based Compensation

     —         -0.1     -0.2     0.1     0.1

Impact of the Tax Reform Bill

     —         8.3     —         -8.3     8.3

Other

     -0.2     -0.8     -1.9     0.6     1.1
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Effective Income Tax Rate

     7.1     18.0     5.6     -10.9     12.4
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(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, 2018, 2017 and 2016 was $249.4 million, $743.1 million and $132.4 million, respectively. This resulted in an effective tax rate of 7.1%, 18.0% and 5.6%, respectively, based on our Income Before Provision for Taxes of $3.5 billion, $4.1 billion and $2.4 billion, respectively.

 

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The Tax Reform Bill enacted in late 2017 reduced the federal corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21% effective January 1, 2018. The decrease in the effective tax rate from the rate reduction was partially offset by the corresponding reduction in the benefit for the exclusion of income passed through to common unitholders and non-controlling interests. This, along with the increase in the 2017 effective tax rate for the one-time remeasurement of the Deferred Tax Assets as a result of the Tax Reform Bill, resulted in an overall decrease in the effective tax rate for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 compared with the twelve months ended December 31, 2017.

The difference in Blackstone’s effective tax rate for the year ended December 31, 2017 compared to the year ended December 31, 2016 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 $3.1 billion in 2017 (of $4.1 billion of 2017 total pretax income), compared to $1.9 billion in 2016 (of $2.4 billion of 2016 total pretax income). Second, the Tax Reform Bill that was signed into law on December 22, 2017 included a reduction in the federal corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%. The remeasurement of the Deferred Tax Assets resulted in income tax expense of $500.6 million partially offset by $160.3 million tax benefit resulting from the $403.9 million reduction to the liability under the Tax Receivable Agreement. The net impact to the effective tax rate was an 8.3% increase. All factors except for the remeasurement of the Deferred Tax Assets and the liability under the Tax Receivable Agreement 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 personnel and others who are limited partners of 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, 2018, 2017 and 2016, the Net Income Before Taxes allocated to Blackstone personnel and others who are limited partners of Blackstone Holdings was 44.0%, 44.9% and 46.1%, respectively. The decreases of 0.9% and 1.2% were primarily due to conversions of Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units to Blackstone common units and the vesting of common units.

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

 

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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, 2018, 2017 and 2016. For a description of how Assets Under Management and Fee-Earning Assets Under 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.

 

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    Year Ended December 31,  
    2018     2017  
    Real Estate     Private
Equity
    Hedge Fund
Solutions
    Credit     Total     Real Estate     Private
Equity
    Hedge Fund
Solutions
    Credit     Total  
    (Dollars in Thousands)  

Fee-Earning Assets Under Management

                   

Balance, Beginning of Period

  $ 83,984,824     $ 70,140,883     $ 69,914,061     $ 111,304,230     $ 335,343,998     $ 72,030,054     $ 69,110,457     $ 66,987,553     $ 68,964,608     $ 277,092,672  

Inflows, including Commitments (a)

    17,961,223       16,096,543       12,354,410       24,587,957       71,000,133       23,555,866       8,257,430       10,302,444       55,099,845       97,215,585  

Outflows, including Distributions (b)

    (2,000,367     (1,888,223     (10,278,403     (27,640,908     (41,807,901     (2,773,181     (1,196,502     (9,777,064     (4,364,916     (18,111,663

Realizations (c)

    (8,781,140     (4,729,843     (429,912     (6,672,539     (20,613,434     (11,851,866     (6,558,390     (2,182,220     (10,396,313     (30,988,789
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Inflows (Outflows)

    7,179,716       9,478,477       1,646,095       (9,725,490     8,578,798       8,930,819       502,538       (1,656,840     40,338,616       48,115,133  

Market Appreciation (Depreciation) (d)(f)

    2,088,184       388,806       720,450       (4,592,729     (1,395,289     3,023,951       527,888       4,583,348       2,001,006       10,136,193  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Balance, End of Period

  $ 93,252,724     $ 80,008,166     $ 72,280,606     $ 96,986,011     $ 342,527,507     $ 83,984,824     $ 70,140,883     $ 69,914,061     $ 111,304,230     $ 335,343,998  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Increase (Decrease)

  $ 9,267,900     $ 9,867,283     $ 2,366,545     $ (14,318,219   $ 7,183,509     $ 11,954,770     $ 1,030,426     $ 2,926,508     $ 42,339,622     $ 58,251,326  

Increase (Decrease)

    11     14     3     -13     2     17     1     4     61     21

Annualized Base Management Fee Rate (e)

    1.09     1.00     0.73     0.56     0.84     1.06     1.07     0.74     0.56     0.83

 

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

Fee-Earning Assets Under Management

         

Balance, Beginning of Period

  $ 67,345,357     $ 51,451,196     $ 65,665,439     $ 61,684,380     $ 246,146,372  

Inflows, including Commitments (a)

    14,230,164       28,896,280       10,132,407       15,066,802       68,325,653  

Outflows, including Distributions (b)

    (2,180,183     (3,135,750     (9,744,077     (4,616,966     (19,676,976

Realizations (c)

    (8,019,202     (8,193,322     (416,583     (5,976,564     (22,605,671
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Inflows (Outflows)

    4,030,779       17,567,208       (28,253     4,473,272       26,043,006  

Market Appreciation (d)(f)

    653,918       92,053       1,350,367       2,806,956       4,903,294  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Balance, End of Period

  $ 72,030,054     $ 69,110,457     $ 66,987,553     $ 68,964,608     $ 277,092,672  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Increase

  $ 4,684,697     $ 17,659,261     $ 1,322,114     $ 7,280,228     $ 30,946,300  

Increase

    7     34     2     12     13

Annualized Base Management Fee Rate (e)

    1.09     0.93     0.78     0.78     0.90

 

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Table of Contents
    Year Ended December 31,  
    2018     2017  
    Real Estate     Private
Equity
    Hedge Fund
Solutions
    Credit     Total     Real Estate     Private
Equity
    Hedge Fund
Solutions
    Credit     Total  
    (Dollars in Thousands)  

Total Assets Under Management

                   

Balance, Beginning of Period

  $ 115,340,363     $ 105,560,576     $ 75,090,834     $ 138,136,470     $ 434,128,243     $ 101,963,652     $ 100,189,994     $ 71,119,718     $ 93,280,101     $ 366,553,465  

Inflows, including Commitments (a)

    31,478,431       26,639,963       13,278,327       29,578,890       100,975,611       23,844,270       12,631,106       12,106,471       59,373,876       107,955,723  

Outflows, including Distributions (b)

    (2,162,958     (1,617,585     (10,780,055     (28,057,658     (42,618,256     (1,399,741     (1,230,409     (10,661,542     (6,165,216     (19,456,908

Realizations (c)

    (14,675,095     (10,396,611     (471,931     (8,516,996     (34,060,633     (24,527,951     (15,760,727     (2,409,985     (12,487,834     (55,186,497
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Inflows (Outflows)

    14,640,378       14,625,767       2,026,341       (6,995,764     24,296,722       (2,083,422     (4,360,030     (965,056     40,720,826       33,312,318  

Market Appreciation (Depreciation) (d)(g)

    6,266,488       10,478,943       697,341       (3,625,420     13,817,352       15,460,133       9,730,612       4,936,172       4,135,543       34,262,460  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Balance, End of Period

  $ 136,247,229     $ 130,665,286     $ 77,814,516     $ 127,515,286     $ 472,242,317     $ 115,340,363     $ 105,560,576     $ 75,090,834     $ 138,136,470     $ 434,128,243  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Increase (Decrease)

  $ 20,906,866     $ 25,104,710     $ 2,723,682     $ (10,621,184   $ 38,114,074     $ 13,376,711     $ 5,370,582     $ 3,971,116     $ 44,856,369     $ 67,574,778  

Increase (Decrease)

    18     24     4     -8     9     13     5     6     48     18

 

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

Total Assets Under Management

         

Balance, Beginning of Period

  $ 93,917,824     $ 94,280,074     $ 69,105,425     $ 79,081,252     $ 336,384,575  

Inflows, including Commitments (a)

    19,047,473       16,845,959       10,782,839       22,984,504       69,660,775  

Outflows, including Distributions (b)

    (500,727     (1,526,205     (9,871,709     (6,408,231     (18,306,872

Realizations (c)

    (17,926,238     (14,221,866     (436,973     (6,798,762     (39,383,839
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Inflows

    620,508       1,097,888       474,157       9,777,511       11,970,064  

Market Appreciation (d)(g)

    7,425,320       4,812,032       1,540,136       4,421,338       18,198,826  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Balance, End of Period

  $ 101,963,652     $ 100,189,994     $ 71,119,718     $ 93,280,101     $ 366,553,465  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Increase

  $ 8,045,828     $ 5,909,920     $ 2,014,293     $ 14,198,849     $ 30,168,890  

Increase

    9     6     3     18     9

 

(a)

Inflows represent contributions in our hedge funds and closed ended mutual funds, increases in available capital for our carry funds (capital raises, recallable capital and increased side-by-side commitments) and CLOs, increases in the capital we manage pursuant to separately managed account programs, allocations from multi-asset products to other strategies and acquisitions.

(b)

Outflows represent redemptions in our hedge funds and closed ended mutual funds, client withdrawals from our separately managed account programs and decreases in available capital for our carry funds (expired capital, expense drawdowns and decreased side-by-side commitments).

(c)

Realizations represent realizations from the disposition of assets or capital returned to investors from CLOs.

(d)

Market appreciation (depreciation) includes realized and unrealized gains (losses) on portfolio investments and the impact of foreign exchange rate fluctuations.

(e)

Represents the annualized current quarter’s Base Management Fee divided by period end Fee-Earning Assets Under Management.

 

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Table of Contents
(f)

For the year ended December 31, 2018, the impact to Fee-Earning Assets Under Management due to foreign exchange rate fluctuations was $(904.2) million, $(626.6) million and $(1.5) billion for the Real Estate, Credit and Total segments, respectively. For the year ended December 31, 2017, the impact to Fee-Earning Assets Under Management due to foreign exchange rate fluctuations was $1.4 billion, $1.3 million, $1.4 billion and $2.8 billion for the Real Estate, Private Equity, Credit and Total segments, respectively. For the year ended December 31, 2016, such impact was $(463.8) million, $1.0 million, $(335.8) million and $(798.5) million for the Real Estate, Private Equity, Credit and Total segments, respectively.

(g)

For the year ended December 31, 2018, the impact to Total Assets Under Management due to foreign exchange rate fluctuations was $(2.1) billion, $(354.1) million, $(821.9) million and $(3.3) billion for the Real Estate, Private Equity, Credit and Total segments, respectively. For the year ended December 31, 2017, the impact to Total Assets Under Management due to foreign exchange rate fluctuations was $3.1 billion, $1.1 billion, $1.8 billion and $5.9 billion for the Real Estate, Private Equity, Credit and Total segments, respectively. For the year ended December 31, 2016, such impact was $(1.4) billion, $86.5 million, $(490.4) million and $(1.8) billion for the Real Estate, Private Equity, Credit and Total segments, respectively.

Fee-Earning Assets Under Management

Fee-Earning Assets Under Management were $342.5 billion at December 31, 2018, an increase of $7.2 billion, compared to $335.3 billion at December 31, 2017. The net increase was due to:

 

   

Inflows of $71.0 billion related to:

 

   

$24.6 billion in our Credit segment driven by $12.2 billion from certain long only and MLP strategies, $7.7 billion of capital raised from new CLO launches and CLO refinancings, $4.0 billion from BIS, $3.3 billion from our distressed strategies, $2.4 billion from our mezzanine funds and $1.5 billion from our new direct lending platform, partially offset by $6.5 billion of allocations from insurance multi-asset products to other strategies,

 

   

$18.0 billion in our Real Estate segment driven by $7.4 billion from BREDS, $3.0 billion from BREIT, $2.8 billion from BPP U.S. and co-investment, $2.2 billion from BPP Europe and co-investment and $2.0 billion from BREP funds and co-investment,

 

   

$16.1 billion in our Private Equity segment driven by $6.1 billion from Tactical Opportunities, $5.4 billion from BIP, $1.4 billion as a result of the Clarus Acquisition, $1.1 billion from Strategic Partners, $862.5 million from corporate private equity, $742.5 million from core private equity and $503.1 million from multi-asset products, and

 

   

$12.4 billion in our Hedge Fund Solutions segment driven by $5.4 billion in customized solutions, $5.3 billion in individual investor and specialized solutions and $1.6 billion in commingled products.

Offsetting these increases were:

 

   

Outflows of $41.8 billion primarily attributable to:

 

   

$27.6 billion in our Credit segment driven by the conclusion of our sub-advisory relationship with FS Investments. The remaining outflows were mainly related to certain long only and MLP strategies,