P3YP10YP3Y2049-09-10false2019FYBlackstone Group Inc0001393818--12-31Following the conversion to a corporation, Blackstone also has one share outstanding of each of Class B and Class C common stock, with par value of each less than one cent. After initial issuance, there have been no changes to the amounts related to Class B and Class C common stock during the period presented.The Commodities category includes investments in commodities-focused funds that primarily invest in futures and physical-based commodity driven strategies. Investments representing 100% of the fair value of the investments in this category may not be redeemed at, or within three months of, the reporting date.The Equity category includes investments in hedge funds that invest primarily in domestic and international equity securities. Investments representing 100% of the fair value of the investments in this category are in liquidation. As of the reporting date, the investee fund manager had elected to side-pocket 70% of Blackstone’s investments in the category.The Credit Driven category includes investments in hedge funds that invest primarily in domestic and international bonds. Investments representing 21% of the fair value of the investments in this category are in liquidation. The remaining 79% of investments in this category are redeemable as of the reporting date.Other represents the summarized financial information of equity method investments whose results, for segment reporting purposes, have been allocated across more than one of Blackstone’s segments.Fair value is determined by broker quote and these notes would be classified as Level II within the fair value hierarchy.Dividends declared reflects the calendar date of the declaration for each distribution. The fourth quarter dividends, if any, for any fiscal year will be declared and paid in the subsequent fiscal year.Includes income that was not taxable to Blackstone and its subsidiaries. Such income was directly taxable to the common unitholders for the period prior to the Conversion and remains taxable to Blackstone’s non-controlling interest holders.The Issuer has a credit facility (the “Credit Facility”) with Citibank, N.A., as Administrative Agent in the amount of $1.6 billion with a maturity date of September 21, 2023. Interest on the borrowings is based on an adjusted LIBOR rate or alternate base rate, in each case plus a margin, and undrawn commitments bear a commitment fee of 0.06%. The margin above adjusted LIBOR used to calculate the interest on borrowings was 0.75% as of December 31, 2019 and 2018. The margin is subject to change based on Blackstone’s credit rating. Borrowings may also be made in U.K. sterling, euros, Swiss francs, Japanese yen or Canadian dollars, in each case subject to certain sub-limits. The Credit Facility contains customary representations, covenants and events of default. Financial covenants consist of a maximum net leverage ratio and a requirement to keep a minimum amount of fee-earning assets under management, each tested quarterly. The Borrowing Outstanding at each date represent outstanding but undrawn letters of credit against the credit facility.The Issuer has issued long-term borrowings in the form of senior notes (the “Notes”). The Notes are unsecured and unsubordinated obligations of the Issuer. The Notes are fully and unconditionally guaranteed, jointly and severally, by Blackstone, Blackstone Holdings (the “Guarantors”), and the Issuer. The guarantees are unsecured and unsubordinated obligations of the Guarantors. Transaction costs related to the issuance of the Notes have been deducted from the Note liability and are being amortized over the life of the Notes. The indentures include covenants, including limitations on the Issuer’s and the Guarantors’ ability to, subject to exceptions, incur indebtedness secured by liens on voting stock or profit participating equity interests of their subsidiaries or merge, consolidate or sell, transfer or lease assets. The indentures also provide for events of default and further provide that the trustee or the holders of not less than 25% in aggregate principal amount of the outstanding Notes may declare the Notes immediately due and payable upon the occurrence and during the continuance of any event of default after expiration of any applicable grace period. In the case of specified events of bankruptcy, insolvency, receivership or reorganization, the principal amount of the Notes and any accrued and unpaid interest on the Notes automatically become due and payable. All or a portion of the Notes may be redeemed at the Issuer’s option in whole or in part, at any time and from time to time, prior to their stated maturity, at the make-whole redemption price set forth in the Notes. If a change of control repurchase event occurs, the holders of the Notes may require the Issuer to repurchase the Notes at a repurchase price in cash equal to 101% of the aggregate principal amount of the Notes repurchased plus any accrued and unpaid interest on the Notes repurchased to, but not including, the date of repurchase.Represents borrowing facilities for the various consolidated Blackstone Funds used to meet liquidity and investing needs. Certain borrowings under these facilities were used for bridge financing and general liquidity purposes. Other borrowings were used to finance the purchase of investments with the borrowing remaining in place until the disposition or refinancing event. Such borrowings have varying maturities and are rolled over until the disposition or a refinancing event. Because the timing of such events is unknown and may occur in the near term, these borrowings are considered short-term in nature. Borrowings bear interest at spreads to market rates. Borrowings were secured according to the terms of each facility and are generally secured by the investment purchased with the proceeds of the borrowing and/or the uncalled capital commitment of each respective fund. Certain facilities have commitment fees. When a fund borrows, the proceeds are available only for use by that fund and are not available for the benefit of other funds. Collateral within each fund is also available only against the borrowings by that fund and not against the borrowings of other funds.Represents borrowings due to the holders of debt securities issued by CLO vehicles consolidated by Blackstone. These amounts are included within Loans Payable and Due to Affiliates within the Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition.The Subordinated Notes do not have contractual interest rates but instead receive distributions from the excess cash flows of the CLO vehicles. Rent expense for the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, was $109.9 million and $104.7 million, respectively.Straight-line lease cost includes short-term leases, which are immaterial.Excludes $138.7 million of lease payments for signed leases that have not yet commenced.This adjustment removes Unrealized Performance Revenues on a segment basis.This adjustment removes Unrealized Principal Investment Income (Loss) on a segment basis.This adjustment removes Interest and Dividend Revenue on a segment basis.This adjustment removes Other Revenue on a segment basis. For the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, Other Revenue on a GAAP basis was $80.0 million, $672.3 million and $(133.2) million and included $76.4 million, $87.4 million and $(146.5) million of foreign exchange gains (losses), respectively.This adjustment removes Equity-Based Compensation on a segment basis.This adjustment removes Interest Expense, excluding interest expense related to the Tax Receivable Agreement.This adjustment reverses the effect of consolidating Blackstone Funds, which are excluded from Blackstone’s segment presentation. This adjustment includes the elimination of Blackstone’s interest in these funds, the removal of revenue from the reimbursement of certain expenses by the Blackstone Funds, which are presented gross under GAAP but netted against Management and Advisory Fees, Net in the Total Segment measures, and the removal of amounts associated with the ownership of Blackstone consolidated operating partnerships held by non-controlling interests.This adjustment removes the amortization of transaction-related intangibles, which are excluded from Blackstone’s segment presentation. This amount includes amortization of intangibles associated with Blackstone’s investment in Pátria, which is accounted for under the equity method.This adjustment removes Transaction-Related Charges, which are excluded from Blackstone’s segment presentation. 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.The Change in Valuation Allowance for the year ended December 31, 2019 represents the change from July 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019, following the change to a taxable corporation.As a result of the Conversion, there was a reduction of $174.6 million of the tax receivable agreement liability during the three months ended September 30, 2019. The reduction of the tax receivable agreement liability was included in Other Income.Dividends declared reflects the calendar date of the declaration of each dividend.For the three months ended June 30, 2018, Revenues included $580.9 million of Transaction-Related Charges recorded in Other Revenues received upon the conclusion of Blackstone’s investment sub-advisory relationship with FS Investments’ funds.Represents (1) the add back of net management fees earned from consolidated Blackstone Funds which have been eliminated in consolidation, and (2) the removal of revenue from the reimbursement of certain expenses by the Blackstone Funds, which are presented gross under GAAP but netted against Management and Advisory Fees, Net in the Total Segment measures.Represents the add back of Performance Revenues earned from consolidated Blackstone Funds which have been eliminated in consolidation.Represents the removal of Transaction-Related Charges that are not recorded in the Total Segment measures.Represents the removal of (1) the amortization of transaction-related intangibles, and (2) certain expenses reimbursed by the Blackstone Funds, which are presented gross under GAAP but netted against Management and Advisory Fees, Net in the Total Segment measures.Represents (1) the add back of Principal Investment Income, including general partner income, earned from consolidated Blackstone Funds which have been eliminated in consolidation, and (2) the removal of amounts associated with the ownership of Blackstone consolidated operating partnerships held by non-controlling interests.Total Segment Revenues is comprised of the following: Year Ended December 31, 2019 2018 2017 Total Segment Management and Advisory Fees, Net $ 3,484,236 $ 3,036,452 $ 2,770,791 Total Segment Fee Related Performance Revenues 212,001 123,836 169,445 Total Segment Realized Performance Revenues 1,660,642 1,811,771 3,647,807 Total Segment Realized Principal Investment Income 224,155 236,058 436,194 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Table of Contents
 
 
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
FORM
10-K
(Mark One)
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934 FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2019
 
 
 
 
 
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
The Blackstone Group Inc.
(Exact name of
r
egistrant 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
 
Trading Symbol(s)
 
Name of each exchange on which registered
Class A Common Stock
 
BX
 
New York Stock Exchange
 
 
 
 
 
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the
r
egistrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  ☒    No  
Indicate by check mark if the
r
egistrant 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
r
egistrant (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
r
egistrant 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 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
r
egistrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule
12b-2
of the Act).    Yes  
    No  
As of June 28, 2019
,
the aggregate market value of the shares of Class A common stock held by
non-affiliates
of the registrant was approximately $29.0 billion.
As of February 21, 2020, there were 673,609,987 shares of Class A common stock, 1 share of Class B common stock and 1 Share of Class C common stock of the registrant outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
None
 
 

Table of Contents
Table of Contents
             
 
 
Page
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 1.
 
 
 
5
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 1A.
 
 
 
17
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 1B.
 
 
 
68
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 2.
 
 
 
68
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 3.
 
 
 
68
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 4.
 
 
 
69
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 5.
 
 
 
70
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 6.
 
 
 
72
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 7.
 
 
 
74
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 7A.
 
 
 
131
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 8.
 
 
 
135
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 8A.
 
 
 
211
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 9.
 
 
 
213
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 9A.
 
 
 
213
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 9B.
 
 
 
214
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 10.
 
 
 
215
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 11.
 
 
 
221
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 12.
 
 
 
241
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 13.
 
 
 
244
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 14.
 
 
 
25
2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 15.
 
 
 
253
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 16.
 
 
 
265
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
266
 
 
 
 
 
 
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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://spoti.fi/2LJ1tHG), YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/blackstonegroup) and Apple Podcast (https://apple.co/31Pe1Gg) 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.
 
Effective July 1, 2019, The Blackstone Group L.P. (the “Partnership”) converted from a Delaware limited partnership to a Delaware corporation, The Blackstone Group Inc. (the “Conversion”). This report includes the results for the Partnership prior to the Conversion and The Blackstone Group Inc. following the Conversion. In this report, references to “Blackstone,” the “Company,” “we,” “us” or “our” refer to (a) The Blackstone Group Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries following the Conversion and (b) the Partnership and its consolidated subsidiaries prior to the Conversion. All references to shares or per share amounts prior to the Conversion refer to units or per unit amounts. Unless otherwise noted, all references to shares or per share amounts following the Conversion refer to shares or per share amounts of Class A common stock. All references to dividends prior to the Conversion refer to distributions. See “Part I. Item 2. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Organizational Structure.”
“Class C Shareholder” refers to Blackstone Group Management L.L.C., the holder of the sole outstanding share of our Class C common stock.
“Blackstone Funds,” “our funds” and “our investment funds” refer to the funds and other vehicles that are managed by Blackstone. “Our carry funds” refers to funds managed by Blackstone that have commitment-based multi-year drawdown structures that pay carry on the realization of an investment.
We refer to our flagship 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
2

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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 life sciences private investment platform, Blackstone Life Sciences (“BXLS”), 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 (“BREDS”) 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”. We refer to our real estate funds which target substantially stabilized assets in prime markets, as Blackstone Property Partners (“BPP”) funds. We refer to BPP and BREIT collectively as our core+ real estate strategies. “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.
“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, certain credit-focused funds, and our Hedge Fund Solutions 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 collateralized loan obligations (“CLO”) 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.
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Table of Contents
“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 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 and uncalled capital commitments, whereas
fee-earning
assets under management includes the total amount of capital commitments or the remaining amount of invested capital at cost depending on whether the investment period has expired or as specified by 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.
4

Table of Contents
Part I.
Item 1.
Business
 
 
 
Overview
Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms, with Total Assets Under Management of $571.1 billion as of December 31, 2019. We seek to create positive economic impact and long-term value for our investors, the companies we invest in, and the communities in which we work. We do this by utilizing extraordinary people and flexible capital to help companies solve problems. Our asset management businesses include investment vehicles focused on real estate, private equity, public debt and equity, growth equity, opportunistic,
non-investment
grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis.
All of Blackstone’s businesses use a solutions-oriented approach to drive better performance. We believe our scale, diversified business, long record of investment performance, rigorous investment process 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. Our mission is to create long-term value through careful stewardship of their capital. To the extent our funds perform well, we can support a better retirement for tens of millions of pensioners, including teachers, nurses and firefighters.
In addition, because we are a global firm with a footprint on nearly every continent, our investments can make a positive difference around the world.
As of December 31, 2019, we employed approximately 2,905 people, including our 157 senior managing directors, at our headquarters in New York and around the world. Our employees are integral to Blackstone’s culture of integrity, professionalism and excellence. 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 enabled us to innovate into new strategies, drive growth and better serve our 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”.
For more information concerning the revenues and fees we derive from our business segments, see “— Fee Structure/Incentive Arrangements”.
Real Estate
Our Real Estate business, founded in 1991, is a global leader in real estate investing, with $163.2 billion of Total Assets Under Management as of December 31, 2019. Our Real Estate segment operates as a globally integrated business with approximately 575 employees and has investments in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America. Our Real Estate investment teams seek to utilize our global expertise and presence to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns for our investors and to make a positive impact on the communities in which we invest.
Our Blackstone Real Estate Partners business is geographically diversified and targets 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. BREP seeks to invest thematically in high-quality assets, focusing where we see outsized growth potential driven by global economic and demographic trends. BREP has made significant investments in logistics, rental housing, office, hospitality and retail properties around the world, as well as a variety of real estate operating companies.
5

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We launched Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies, our real estate debt platform, in 2008. Our BREDS vehicles primarily target real estate-related debt investment opportunities. 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.
Our core+ real estate business includes Blackstone Property Partners and a
non-exchange
traded REIT, BREIT. We launched BPP in 2013 and have assembled a global portfolio of high-quality investments across North America, Europe and Asia, 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. BREIT, which launched in 2017, invests primarily in stabilized income-oriented commercial real estate in the United States and to a lesser extent in real estate-related securities.
Private Equity
Our Private Equity segment encompasses global businesses with a total of approximately 510 employees managing $182.9 billion of Total Assets Under Management as of December 31, 2019. Our Private Equity segment includes our corporate private equity business, which consists of: (a) our flagship private equity funds, Blackstone Capital Partners, (b) our sector-focused funds, including our energy-focused funds, Blackstone Energy Partners and (c) our Asia-focused private equity fund, Blackstone Capital Partners Asia. In addition, our Private Equity segment includes (a) our core private equity fund, Blackstone Core Equity Partners, (b) our opportunistic investment platform that invests globally across asset classes, industries and geographies, Blackstone Tactical Opportunities, (c) our secondary fund of funds business, Strategic Partners Fund Solutions, (d) our infrastructure-focused funds, Blackstone Infrastructure Partners, (e) our life sciences private investment platform, Blackstone Life Sciences, (f) 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 (g) our capital markets services business, Blackstone Capital Markets.
We are a world leader in private equity investing. Our corporate private equity business, established in 1987, pursues transactions across industries in both established and growth-oriented businesses across the globe. It strives to create value by investing in great businesses where our capital, strategic insight, global relationships and operational support can drive transformation. Our corporate 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.
Blackstone Core Equity Partners pursues 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 our flagship corporate private equity business.
Tactical Opportunities, our opportunistic investment platform, 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 and/or debt.
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Strategic Partners, our secondary fund of funds business, 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 primary investments and
co-investments
with 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 targets a diversified mix of core+, core and public-private partnership investments across all infrastructure sectors, including energy, water and waste, transportation and communications, with a primary focus in the U.S. BIP applies a disciplined operationally intensive investment approach to investments in the infrastructure asset class. BIP seeks to apply a long-term
buy-and-hold
strategy to large-scale infrastructure assets with a focus on delivering stable, long-term capital appreciation together with a predictable annual cash flow yield.
Blackstone Life Sciences is our private investment platform with capabilities to invest across the life cycle of companies and products within the life sciences sector. BXLS primarily focuses on investments in life sciences products in late stage clinical development within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors.
Hedge Fund Solutions
Working with our clients for more than 25 years, our Hedge Fund Solutions group is a leading manager of institutional funds with approximately 280 employees managing $80.7 billion of Total Assets Under Management as of December 31, 2019. The principal 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 interests in more established general partners and management companies of funds, invest in special situations opportunities, create alternative solutions in the form of daily liquidity products and invest directly. 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.
Credit
Our Credit segment, with approximately 460 employees and $144.3 billion of Total Assets Under Management as of December 31, 2019, consists principally of GSO Capital Partners (“GSO”). GSO is one of the largest credit-oriented managers in the world and is the largest manager of 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.
GSO is organized into three overarching strategies: performing credit, distressed and long only. GSO’s performing credit strategies include mezzanine lending funds, middle market direct lending funds, including our business development company (“BDC”) and other performing credit strategy funds. GSO’s distressed strategies include credit alpha strategies, stressed/distressed funds and energy strategies. GSO’s long only strategies consist of CLOs, closed-ended 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 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, Blackstone Insurance Solutions. BIS partners with insurers to deliver customized and diversified portfolios of Blackstone products across asset classes, including the option for full management of insurance companies’ investment portfolios.
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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, 2019, Pátria’s alternative asset management businesses had $14.6 billion in assets under management, including the management of private equity funds ($8.3 billion), infrastructure funds ($4.8 billion), real estate funds ($919.1 million) and new initiatives ($536.5 million). Pátria has approximately 280 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. Pátria’s assets under management are not included as part of Blackstone’s assets under management.
Investment Process and Risk Management
We maintain a rigorous investment process across all of our investment vehicles. Each investment 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 assets, industries or geographic regions in which the vehicle will invest, as well as limitations required by law. The review committees and/or 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 investments.
Our investment professionals are responsible for selecting, evaluating, underwriting, diligencing, negotiating, executing, managing and exiting investments. Investment professionals generally submit investment opportunities for review and approval by a review committee and/or investment committee, subject to delineated exceptions set forth in the funds’ investment committee charters or resolutions. Review and investment committees are generally comprised of senior leaders and other senior professionals of the applicable investment business, and in many cases, other senior leaders of Blackstone and its businesses. Considerations that review and investment committees take into account when evaluating an investment may include, without limitation and depending on the nature of the investing business and its strategy, the quality of the business or asset in which the fund proposes to invest, the quality of the management team, likely exit strategies and factors that could reduce the value of the business or asset at exit, the ability of the business in which the investment is made to service debt in a range of economic and interest rate environments, macroeconomic trends in the relevant geographic region or industry and the quality of the businesses’ operations. Our review and/or investment committees also incorporate relevant environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) factors into the investment decision-making process, including, for example, sustainability and diversity and inclusion. In addition, before deciding to invest in a new hedge fund or a new alternative asset manager, as applicable, our Hedge Fund Solutions and Strategic Partners teams conduct diligence in a number of areas, which, depending on the nature of the investment, may include, among others, the fund’s/manager’s performance, investment terms, investment strategy and investment personnel, as well as its operations, processes, risk management and internal controls. With respect to customized credit long only clients and other clients whose portfolios are actively traded in our Credit segment, our industry-focused research analysts provide the review and/or investment committee with a formal and comprehensive review of new investment recommendations and portfolio managers and trading professionals discuss, among other things, risks associated with overall portfolio composition. Our Credit segment’s research team monitors the operating performance of underlying issuers, while portfolio managers, together with our traders, focus on optimizing asset composition to maximize value for our investors.
Existing investments are reviewed and monitored on a regular basis by investment and asset management professionals. In addition, our investment professionals and Portfolio Operations team work directly with our portfolio company senior executives to identify opportunities to drive operational efficiencies and growth.
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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 partnerships or other similar limited liability 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 subscriptions 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 real estate debt funds, our private equity and real estate funds are commitment structured funds. For certain BPP and BREDS funds, all or a portion of the investors’ capital may be funded on or promptly after the investor’s subscription date and cash proceeds resulting from the disposition of investments can be reinvested, subject to certain limitations and limited investor withdrawal rights. Our credit-focused funds are generally either commitment structured funds or open-ended funds where the investor’s capital is fully funded on or promptly after the investor’s subscription date. The CLO vehicles we manage are structured investment vehicles that are generally private companies with limited liability. Most of our funds of hedge funds as well as our hedge funds are structured as funds where the investor’s capital is fully funded on the subscription date. BIS is generally structured around separately managed accounts.
Our investment funds, separately managed accounts and other vehicles not domiciled in the European Economic Area (the “EEA”) are each generally advised by a Blackstone entity serving as investment adviser that is registered under the U.S. Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended, or the “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 adviser 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, as amended, or the “1940 Act,” in reliance on the statutory exemptions provided by Section 3(c)(7), Section 3(c)(5)(C) or, 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 beneficially owned exclusively by persons who, at the time of acquisition of such securities, are “qualified purchasers” as defined under the 1940 Act. In addition, under current interpretations of the SEC, Section 3(c)(7) 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. 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. Additionally, under current interpretations of the SEC, Section 3(c)(1) of the 1940 Act exempts from registration any
non-U.S.
investment vehicle not publicly offered in the U.S. all of whose outstanding securities are beneficially owned by not more than 100 U.S. residents. 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 advisers within GSO, BAAM and BREDS, advises or
sub-advises
funds registered, or regulated as a BDC, under the 1940 Act.
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In addition to having an investment adviser, each investment fund that is a limited partnership, or “partnership” fund, also has a general partner that, apart from partnership funds domiciled in the EEA, 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 some of 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, or by a higher percentage in certain recent funds. In addition, the governing agreements of many 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 such 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 provide that investors have the right to terminate the investment period for any reason by a vote of 75% of the investors in such fund.
Fee Structure/Incentive Arrangements
Management Fees
The following is a general description of the management fees earned by Blackstone.
  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 on 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, BPP and BCEP funds receives a management fee based on a percentage of invested capital or net asset value. 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 on which management fees are calculated, negative performance of one or more investments in the fund may reduce the total management fee paid for the relevant period, but not the fee rate. Management fees received are not subject to clawback.
 
 
 
 
  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 a management fee based on a percentage of the fund’s or account’s net asset value. These management fees are payable on a regular basis (typically quarterly). These funds generally permit investors to withdraw or redeem their interests periodically, in some cases following the expiration of a specified period of time when capital may not be withdrawn. Decreases in the net asset value of investor’s capital accounts may reduce the total management fee paid for the relevant period, but not the fee rate. Management fees received are not subject to clawback. In addition, to the extent the mandate of our funds is to invest capital in third party managed 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.
 
 
 
 
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  The investment adviser of each of our CLOs typically receives annual management fees based on 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 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 amount 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 based on 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) such management fees are generally subject to contractual rights the investor has to terminate our management of an account on generally as short as 30 days’ notice.
 
 
 
 
  The investment adviser of each of our credit-focused registered and
non-registered
investment companies typically receives an annual management fee based on a percentage of 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). Such management fees are generally subject to contractual rights the company’s board of directors has to terminate our management of an account on as short as 30 days’ notice.
 
 
 
 
  The investment adviser of BXMT receives an annual management fee, paid quarterly, based on 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 generally accepted accounting principles in the U.S. (“GAAP”), excluding certain
non-cash
and other items), 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 measurement period, typically a year, 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 is a general description of the incentive fees earned 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 20%, as applicable, of the applicable investment vehicle’s net appreciation, subject to “high water mark” 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 investment manager of BXMT receives an incentive fee generally equal to 20% of BXMT’s core earnings in excess of a 7% per annum return on stockholder’s equity (excluding stock appreciation or depreciation), provided that BXMT’s core earnings over the prior three years is greater than zero.
 
 
 
 
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  The investment manager of BREIT receives an incentive fee of 12.5% of BREIT’s total return, subject to a 5% hurdle amount with a
catch-up
and recouping any loss carryforward amounts, payable annually.
 
 
 
  The general partner of certain open-ended BPP funds is entitled to an incentive fee allocation of generally 10% of net profit, 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 (“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.
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 an allocation of up to 20% of the net realized income and gains (generally taking into account realized and unrealized or net unrealized losses) generated by such fund. Net realized income or loss is not generally netted between or among funds, and in some cases our carry funds provide for allocations to be made on current income distributions (subject to certain conditions).
For most carry funds, the carried interest is subject to a preferred limited partner return ranging from 5% to 8% per year, subject to a
catch-up
allocation to the general partner. Some of our carry 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, multi-asset class and 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 we were ultimately entitled, up to the amount of carried interest received 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 dividends paid to our shareholders may include any carried interest received by us, we do not intend to seek fulfillment of any clawback obligation by seeking to have our shareholders return any portion of such dividends attributable to carried interest associated with any clawback obligation. To the extent we are required to fulfill a clawback obligation, however, we may determine to decrease the amount of our dividends to our shareholders. 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, 2019, 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 — Risks Related to Our Business — We may not have sufficient cash to pay back “clawback” obligations if and when they are triggered under the governing agreements with our investors.”
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Advisory and Transaction Fees
Some of our investment advisers or their affiliates, 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 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 each of 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 investments, in or alongside our funds and other vehicles we manage, in some instances without being subject to management fees, carried interest or incentive fees. In certain cases, limited partner investors may pay additional management fees or carried interest in connection with such
co-investments.
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 have demonstrated 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.
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Depending on the investment, we face competition primarily from sponsors managing other funds, investment vehicles 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 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, 2019, we employed approximately 2,905 people, including our 157 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 under the Advisers Act (other investment advisers may be 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 advisory clients, maintaining an effective compliance program, investment advisory contracts, solicitation agreements, conflicts of interest, recordkeeping and reporting requirements, disclosure, advertising and custody requirements, political contributions, limitations on agency cross and principal transactions between an adviser and advisory clients, and general anti-fraud prohibitions.
Blackstone Advisory Partners L.P. (“BAP”), 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 BAP. State securities regulators also have regulatory oversight authority over BAP.
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, BAP 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 of a broker-dealer falls below certain predefined criteria, limit the ratio of subordinated debt to equity in the capital structure of a broker-dealer and constrain the ability of a broker-dealer to expand its business under certain circumstances. Additionally, the SEC’s uniform net capital rule imposes certain requirements that may have the effect of prohibiting a broker-dealer from distributing or withdrawing capital and requiring prior notice to the SEC for certain withdrawals of capital.
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In addition, certain of the closed-ended and open-ended investment management companies we manage, advise or
sub-advise
are registered, or regulated as a BDC, 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 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. 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 (2014) (“MiFID II”) 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 Abu Dhabi, Milan and Paris. Blackstone Insurance Solutions Europe LLP (“BISE”) is also authorized and regulated by the FCA. BISE has MiFID II cross-border passports for the provision of, amongst others, investment advice and portfolio management in respect of certain investment types within the EEA. BISE’s principal place of business is in London. BGIP and BISE’s MiFID passports will fall away if the U.K. and the European Union do not agree on an arrangement for the provision of cross-border services prior to the expiration of the transition period for the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union. BGIP and BISE are subject to the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (“SMCR”), which imposes on BGIP, BISE and certain of their respective employees, documentation and recordkeeping requirements to demonstrate compliance. The SMCR creates a duty of responsibility for individuals identified as “Senior Managers” and personal liability where a Senior Manager does not take reasonable steps to prevent a violation of FCA rules in the area of the business for which they are responsible.
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 Luxembourg Law of 12 July 2013 on alternative investment fund managers (as amended, “AIFMD”). BEFM may also provide discretionary portfolio management services and investment advice in accordance with article 5(4) of AIFMD. BEFM provides investment management functions including portfolio management, risk management, administration, marketing and related activities to the assets of its alternative investment funds, in accordance with AIFMD and the law and regulatory provisions 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
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Blackstone Group (Australia) Pty Limited ACN 149 142 058 and Blackstone Real Estate Australia Pty Limited ACN 604 167 651 each holds an Australian financial services license authorizing it to provide financial services in Australia (AFSL 408376 and AFSL 485716, respectively) and is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission; and 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, 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 financial regulatory authorities or 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, anti-money laundering, anti-bribery and sanctions, 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. As described above, to maximize that access and related synergies 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 independently reports to the audit committee of our board of directors, 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 manage non-investment risk areas across the firm, such as strategic, financial, human capital, legal, operational, regulatory, reputational and technology risks. Our enterprise risk committee aims to identify, assess, monitor and mitigate such key enterprise risks at the corporate, business unit and fund level. The enterprise risk committee is chaired by our Chief Financial Officer and is comprised of senior management across business units, corporate functions and regional locations.
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Senior management reports regularly to the audit committee of our board of directors on risk matters evaluated by the enterprise risk committee, including by providing periodic risk reports, an overview of management’s views on key risks to the firm and detailed assessments of selected risks. Our firmwide valuation committee reviews the valuation process for investments held by us and our investment vehicles, including the application of appropriate valuation standards on a consistent basis. The firmwide valuation committee is chaired by our Chief Financial Officer and is comprised of senior heads of Blackstone’s businesses and representatives from legal and finance. The review committees and/or 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 investments. See “— Investment Process and Risk Management.”
There are a number of pending or recently enacted legislative and regulatory initiatives 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 — Regulatory changes in jurisdictions outside the United States could adversely affect our business.”
Available Information
Effective July 1, 2019, The Blackstone Group Inc. converted from a Delaware limited partnership to a Delaware corporation. Blackstone was formed as a Delaware limited partnership 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 and geopolitical conditions can adversely affect our business in many ways, 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 financial market and economic conditions and events throughout the world that are outside our control. We may not be able to or may choose not to manage our exposure to these conditions and/or events. Such conditions and/or events can adversely affect our business in many ways, including by reducing the ability of our funds to raise or deploy capital, reducing the value or performance of the investments made by our funds and making it more difficult to fund opportunities for our funds to exist and realize value from existing investment. This could in turn materially reduce our revenue, earnings and cash flow and adversely affect our financial prospects and condition. In addition, in the face of a difficult market or economic environment, we may need to reduce our fixed costs and other expenses in order to maintain profitability, including by cutting back or eliminating the use of certain services or service providers, or terminating 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. A failure to manage or reduce our costs and other expenses within a time frame sufficient to match any decrease in profitability would adversely affect our operating performance.
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
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revenues and net income. In addition, our public equity holdings have at times been and are currently concentrated in a few large positions, thereby making our unrealized
mark-to-market
valuations particularly sensitive to sharp changes in the price of any of these positions. Further, 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.
Geopolitical concerns and other global events, including, without limitation, trade conflict, national and international political circumstances (including wars, terrorist acts or security operations) and pandemics or other severe public health events, have contributed and may continue to contribute to volatility in global equity and debt markets. 2019 was a year of significant geopolitical concerns, including, among other things, uncertainty regarding
re-opening
of the U.S. government after a shutdown in 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, ongoing hostilities in the Middle East and the possibility of their escalation, uncertainty regarding the U.K.’s ongoing negotiation of the circumstances surrounding its withdrawal from the European Union and impeachment proceedings of President Trump in the United States. Such concerns have contributed and may continue to contribute to volatility in global equity and debt markets.
Recently, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in many countries continues to adversely impact global commercial activity, particularly in China, and has contributed to significant volatility in financial markets. The global impact of the outbreak has been rapidly evolving, and as cases of the virus have continued to be identified in additional countries, many countries have reacted by instituting quarantines and restrictions on travel. Such actions are creating disruption in global supply chains, and adversely impacting a number of industries, such as transportation, hospitality and entertainment. The outbreak could have a continued adverse impact on economic and market conditions and trigger a period of global economic slowdown. The rapid development and fluidity of this situation precludes any prediction as to the ultimate adverse impact of the novel coronavirus. Nevertheless, the novel coronavirus presents material uncertainty and risk with respect to our and our funds’ performance and financial results.
In addition to the factors described above, other factors described herein that may affect market, economic and geopolitical conditions, and thereby adversely affect our business include, without limitation:
  economic slowdown in the U.S. and internationally;
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  changes in interest rates and/or a lack of availability of credit in the U.S. and internationally;
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  commodity price volatility; and
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  changes in law and/or regulation, and uncertainty regarding government and regulatory policy.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A period of economic slowdown, which may be across one or more industries, sectors or geographies, could contribute to adverse operating performance for certain of our funds’ investments, which would adversely affect our operating results and cash flows.
In recent years we have experienced buoyant markets and positive economic conditions. Although such conditions have increasingly made it more difficult and competitive to find suitable capital deployment opportunities for our funds, they have also in many cases contributed to positive operating performance at our funds’ portfolio companies. To the extent global markets enter a period of slower growth relative to recent years, such period of economic slowdown (which may be across one or more industries, sectors or geographies), may contribute to poor financial results at our funds’ portfolio companies, which may result in lower investment returns for our funds. For example, periods of economic weakness have in the past and may in the future contribute to a decline in commodity prices and/or volatility in the oil and natural gas markets, each of which would have an adverse effect on our energy investments. The performance of our funds’ portfolio companies would also likely be negatively impacted if pressure on wages and other inputs increasingly pressure profit margins. To the extent the performance of those portfolio companies (as well as valuation multiples) do not improve, our funds may sell those assets at values that are less than we projected or even a loss, thereby significantly affecting those investment funds’ performance. In addition, as the governing agreements of our funds contain only limited requirements regarding diversification of fund investments (by, for example, sector or geographic region), during periods of economic slowdown in certain sectors or regions, the impact on our funds may be exacerbated by concentration of investments in such sector or region. As a result, our ability to raise new funds, as well as our operating results and cash flows could be adversely affected.
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In addition, during periods of weakness, our 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 funds that have significant debt investments, such as our credit-focused funds.
An increase in interest rates and other changes in the debt financing markets could negatively impact the ability of our funds and their portfolio companies to obtain attractive financing or refinancing 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.
Interest rates have remained at relatively low levels on a historical basis and the U.S. Federal Reserve lowered rates in multiple cuts in 2019, indicating that the current level would likely be held steady for the foreseeable future. There can be no assurance, however, that the Federal Reserve will not raise rates in 2020. A period of sharply rising interest rates could create downward pressure on the price of real estate, increase the cost and availability of debt financing for the transactions our funds pursue and decrease the value of fixed-rate debt investments made by our funds, each of which may have an adverse impact on our business. In addition, a significant contraction or weakening in the market for debt financing or other adverse change relating to the terms of debt financing (such as, for example, 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. For example, a portion of the indebtedness used to finance certain fund 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. For example, 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. Further, 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 face increased competition from strategic buyers of assets who may have an overall lower cost of capital or the ability to benefit from a higher amount of cost savings following an acquisition, or may have difficulty completing otherwise profitable acquisitions or may generate profits that are lower than would otherwise be the case, each of which could lead to a decrease in our revenues. In addition, rising interest rates, coupled with periods of significant equity and credit market volatility may potentially make it more difficult for us to find attractive opportunities for our funds to exit and realize value from their existing investments.
Our funds’ portfolio companies also regularly utilize the corporate debt markets in order to obtain financing for their operations. To the extent monetary policy, tax or other regulatory changes or difficult credit markets render such financing difficult to obtain, more expensive or otherwise less attractive, this may also negatively impact the financial results of those portfolio companies and, therefore, the investment returns on our funds. In addition, to the extent that market conditions and/or tax or other regulatory changes make it difficult or impossible to refinance debt that is maturing in the near term, some of our funds’ portfolio companies may be unable to repay such debt at maturity and may be forced to sell assets, undergo a recapitalization or seek bankruptcy protection.
A decline in the pace or size of investment made by our funds may adversely affect our revenues.
The revenues that we earn are driven in part by the pace at which our funds make investments and the size of those investments, and a decline in the pace or the size of such investments may reduce our revenues. The market environment for private equity transactions, for example, recently has been and continues to be characterized by relatively high prices, which can make the deployment of capital more difficult. In addition, many other factors could cause a decline in the pace of investment, including the inability of our investment professionals to identify
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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, if our funds are unable to deploy capital at a pace that is sufficient to offset the pace of realizations, our fee revenues could decrease.
Our revenue, earnings, net income and cash flow can all vary materially, which may make it difficult for us to achieve steady earnings growth on a quarterly basis and may cause the price of our Class A common stock to decline.
Our revenue, net income and cash flow can all vary materially due to our reliance on Performance Revenues. We may experience fluctuations in our results, including our revenue and net income, from quarter to quarter due to a number of other factors, including timing of realizations, 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. 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 Class A common stock. We also 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 Class A common stock price.
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. 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.
The
mark-to-market
valuations of investments made by our funds are subject to volatility driven by economic and market conditions. Economic and market conditions may also negatively impact our realization opportunities.
The valuations of and realization opportunities for 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.
In addition, upon the realization of a profitable investment by any of our carry funds and prior to our 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 our 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 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.
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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, core+ real estate funds, infrastructure funds and 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.
Adverse economic and market conditions may adversely affect the amount of cash generated by our businesses, and in turn, our ability to pay dividends to our shareholders.
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) pay dividends to our shareholders and make distributions to 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 $4.7 billion in borrowings from our prior bond issuances and we had no borrowings outstanding against our revolving credit facility as of December 31, 2019. As of December 31, 2019, we had $2.2 billion in cash and cash equivalents and $2.4 billion invested in our corporate treasury 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 payment of dividends to our shareholders. 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 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. For example, the governing agreements of many of our funds generally provide investors with the ability to terminate the investment period in the event that certain “key
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persons” in the fund do not provide the specified time commitment to the fund or our firm ceases to control the general partner. The loss of the services of any key senior managing directors 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 Blackstone Holdings Partnership Units and other Blackstone equity interests, and the distributions in respect thereof, 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.
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. The longer holding period requirement may result in some of our carried interest being treated as ordinary income, which would materially increase the amount of taxes that our employees and other key personnel would be required to pay. In addition, following the Tax Reform Bill, the tax treatment of carried interest may continue to be an area of focus for policymakers and government officials, which could result in further regulatory action by federal or state governments. For example, certain states, including New York and California, have proposed legislation to levy additional state tax on carried interest. Similarly, there have been changes in the United Kingdom with respect to taxation of carried interest, including the treatment of certain carried interest returns as income, which became effective from April 6, 2016. 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 professionals.