Blackstone Group unveils $100 billion infrastructure fund
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New York: Blackstone Group Lp, the world’s biggest private equity manager, is eyeing more than $100 billion in infrastructure investments with a new strategy anchored by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
PIF agreed to commit $20 billion to the pool, and Blackstone plans to raise the same amount from other investors, the New York-based asset manager said in a statement Saturday. With leverage, Blackstone expects to have more than $100 billion in purchasing power for infrastructure projects, primarily in the US.
The agreement between Blackstone and PIF is a non-binding memorandum of understanding, and the organizations are continuing to negotiate terms, they said.
The partnership comes as top executives, including Blackstone chief executive officer Steve Schwarzman and KKR and Co. co-CEO Henry Kravis, descend on Riyadh for the inaugural Saudi-US CEO Forum, a weekend of dealmaking. The meetings, which have already yielded billions of dollars in deals between firms including oil giant Saudi Aramco and General Electric Co., are taking place as US President Donald Trump visits the kingdom.
Infrastructure investing has gained renewed attention as Trump’s administration vows to direct more private money toward improving roads, bridges and airports. The asset class also fits the bill for liability-driven investors in the US and abroad seeking current income amid near-zero interest rates and negative yields elsewhere in fixed income.
“There is broad agreement that the United States urgently needs to invest in its rapidly aging infrastructure,” Blackstone president Tony James said in the statement. “This will create well-paying American jobs and will lay the foundation for stronger long-term economic growth.”
Schwarzman is a top confidant to Trump from outside the White House. After he was elected, Trump asked the Blackstone billionaire to form a group of business executives that would meet frequently with the President to discuss job creation and economic growth. Schwarzman, 70, chairs the gatherings of the Strategic and Policy Forum.
Investor interest is fueling ever-larger pools of capital devoted to infrastructure. Brookfield Asset Management Inc. scored $14 billion last year for a pool dedicated to the strategy, which was topped in January by Global Infrastructure Partners, which closed on $15.8 billion.
Blackstone signalled its ambitions for a large fund in January, when its global head of private equity described what it would take to be a meaningful investor in infrastructure. “To be relevant in that end of the market I think you need to be deploying billions of dollars at a time, not hundreds of millions, and so you’re probably talking about a vehicle that’s $20 billion, $30 billion, $40 billion dollars of equity,” Joe Baratta said then in an interview on Bloomberg Television. Bloomberg