Blackstone Adds North Korea, CFIUS Crackdown to List of Worries
(Bloomberg) -- Last year’s record profit hasn’t shortened Blackstone Group LP’s list of worries.
The firm, led by Steve Schwarzman, added several new concerns in its annual report filed late Thursday. Among more customary factors such as adverse macroeconomic conditions, regulatory uncertainty and the loss of key executives, Blackstone cited increased tensions with North Korea and a crackdown on foreign investment in the U.S. as risks.
Exposures keep growing for New York-based Blackstone as it expands into new business lines such as infrastructure and insurance solutions. Schwarzman has set his sights on doubling assets to $800 billion within five years.
Here are two highlights:
- Geopolitical concerns: Rising tensions with North Korea over its ballistic missile testing and nuclear program made the list. Uncertainty as to whether the U.S. will re-certify the Iran nuclear framework and the negotiation of Brexit did too. As equity markets extend their bull run further, buyout executives cite geopolitics among the largest risks. “I do worry that if something untoward happened or some missile went somewhere it’s not supposed to go, it could cause the economies around the world to go into a downturn,” Carlyle Group LP’s David Rubenstein said this week at the SuperReturn International Conference in Berlin.
- Foreign investment: The U.S. recently proposed legislation that would expand the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., potentially intensifying the transaction review process. If the proposal moves forward, it “may reduce the number of potential buyers and limit the ability of our funds to realize value from certain existing and future investments,” Blackstone wrote. Selling assets to Chinese buyers has been a popular exit route for the firm, notably with real estate deals including the Waldorf Astoria hotel, Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc. and a stake in Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.
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