Massive fundraising numbers lift Blackstone above $500bn AUM mark

With these results, Blackstone is more than halfway to its goal of managing $1trn by 2026.

Blackstone raised substantial amounts of capital in the first quarter, with more than half of it coming from the $22.2 billion first close of Blackstone Capital Partners VIII, the latest vintage of its flagship private equity fund.

The New York-based firm pulled in $42.9 billion across all strategies, escalating its last-twelve-month (LTM) fundraising total to $125.7 billion, and reported $511.8 billion in assets under management as of 31 March.

The alternative asset behemoth anticipates it will raise well beyond $100 billion for calendar-year 2019, firm president Jon Gray said on the first-quarter earnings call. Gray added Blackstone anticipates BCP VIII will be the largest private equity fund ever, eclipsing the $24.7 billion record set by Apollo Global Management in 2017. Blackstone’s corporate private equity funds appreciated 4.6 percent in the first quarter and 17.7 percent over the LTM.

The AUM for its new direct lending product, which is anchored by its Blackstone / GSO Secured Lending Fund business development company, has reached almost $8 billion. Some $7.2 billion had been locked down at quarter’s end, followed by an additional $500 million of inflows on 1 April. The strategy is expected to reach $12 billion by year’s end, Gray said.

In addition, the firm held an initial close on $686 million for its GSO European Senior Debt Fund II, its direct lending vehicle in Europe. Taiwan Life Insurance has committed €50 million to the vehicle, as Private Debt Investor previously reported. The firm also collected $2.6 billion for its second energy debt fund, bringing the LTM fundraise for the vehicle to $5 billion, the fund’s target.

On the real estate side, the firm raised $5 billion and launched the sixth edition of its European opportunistic fund and fourth real estate debt fund. No specific totals for the two vehicles were disclosed. Opportunistic and core-plus funds appreciated 4.7 percent and 2.7 percent over the quarter, respectively bringing LTM totals to 11 percent and 10.1 percent.

In addition, the firm said it plans to launch its initial life sciences fund this quarter and expects to bring a growth equity vehicle, another new strategy for the firm, to market later this year. The firm did not specify sizes for either vehicle, though management did note that Clarus, the life sciences firm Blackstone acquired, most recently raised a $1 billion vehicle, and the successor fund will likely be “multiples of that”.

GSO Capital Partners, the firm’s credit arm, posted gross returns of 4.1 percent for performing credit, which includes mezzanine and direct lending, for the quarter and 10.2 percent over the LTM. Distressed credit faired slightly worse, posting 3.7 percent for the first three months of the year and 0.7 percent for the LTM.