Blackstone posts record fourth quarter profit

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Blackstone Inc said on Thursday its distributable profits in the fourth quarter rose 55% to a record high as the world’s largest alternative asset manager took advantage of rising markets to sell assets at the best price.

Private equity deals pushed global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity to a record high in 2021, supported by an abundance of cheap capital and soaring corporate valuations.

Blackstone said its distributable profits, which represent cash used to pay dividends to shareholders, hit a record $2.3 billion, from $1.7 billion a year earlier. That resulted in distributable earnings per share of $1.71, which beat Wall Street analysts’ average estimate of $1.37, according to financial data provider Refinitiv.

During the quarter, Blackstone said it spent a record $65.8 billion to acquire new assets across its real estate, credit, private equity and hedge fund portfolios.

These deals included a $5.1 billion purchase of affordable housing from American International Group Inc (AIG.N), the acquisition of a majority stake in garage door equipment maker Chamberlain Group and the privatization of the WPT Industrial Real Estate Investment Trust of Canada.

Blackstone said it raised $21 billion from cashing in investments, including the sale of subprime car lender Exeter Finance to private equity firm Warburg Pincus and the sale of jeweler Diamond Direct to Signet Jewelers Ltd as part of a $490 million transaction.

Blackstone’s private equity funds rose 4.8% in the quarter, compared with a 10.7% gain for the benchmark S&P 500 stock index over the same period. Opportunistic and core real estate funds rose by 12% and 7.2% respectively.

Total assets under management reached a record $881 billion, up 21% from $730.7 billion three months earlier, thanks to a record amount of fundraising. Unspent capital was $135.8 billion.

Blackstone has declared a quarterly dividend of $1.45 per share.

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