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Blackstone’s earnings more than double on strong asset sales

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October 21, 2021

By Chibuike Oguh

(Reuters) -Blackstone Group Inc, the world’s biggest manager of alternative assets such as private equity and real estate, said on Thursday its distributable earnings more than doubled in the third quarter to an all-time high.

Blackstone and other private equity firms have capitalized on low interest rates and the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic to sell many of their assets for top dollar.

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The New York-based firm reported distributable earnings of $1.28 per share, up 112% from a year ago, exceeding the average Wall Street analyst estimate of 91 cents, according to Refinitiv. Its shares rose 3.5% to $133.25 on Thursday morning, giving the firm a market capitalization of more than $154 billion.

“We believe our portfolio overall is well-positioned for future cycles, including a likely scenario of rising interest rates,” Blackstone Chief Executive Stephen Schwarzman told analysts on an earnings call.

Blackstone said it cashed out on $21.8 billion worth of assets during the quarter, including the sale of its stake in U.S. supply-chain software firm Blue Yonder to Japanese electronics giant Panasonic Corp.

Blackstone also said it spent $37.1 billion on new investments, including the $6.7 billion privatization of data center operator QTS Realty Trust Inc and the acquisition of single-family rental company Home Partners of America in a $6 billion deal.

Blackstone said its private equity fund appreciated by 9.9% during the quarter, compared with a 0.23% rise in the S&P 500 index over the same period. Opportunistic and core real estate funds rose 16.2% and 7.6%, respectively.

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Under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), Blackstone said its net income nearly doubled to $1.4 billion, driven by investment income. Its net accrued performance revenue, which represents paper profit that is yet to be cashed, reached $8.3 billion.

Blackstone’s total assets under management rose to $730.7 billion, from $648.8 billion three months earlier. It ended the quarter with $127.2 billion of unspent capital and declared a quarterly dividend of $1.09 per share.

(Reporting by Chibuike Oguh in New YorkEditing by Chizu Nomiyama and Matthew Lewis)

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Buying the Omicron dip

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November 29, 2021

A look at the day ahead from Danilo Masoni.

Sell first, get answers later. With stocks near lifetime peaks, the Black Friday reaction to the new fast-spreading virus strain Omicron was hardly surprising.

But a weekend later, investors look heavily engaged in buying the dip, as markets take a more balanced view of risks attached to what the WHO called a “variant of concern”.

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After their ninth biggest drop ever on Friday, gains in crude prices topped 5% earlier in Asia and stock futures point to a solid bounce across Europe and America.

A South African doctor said patients with Omicron have “very mild” symptoms and investment houses don’t look to have budged that much. Credit Suisse, for example, made no portfolio changes, staying slight overweight on equities.

Perhaps more telling is that retail traders poured north of $2 billion into U.S. stocks on Friday, setting the second biggest daily inflow on record, per Vanda Research data.

Of course there are uncertainties and that will likely make for volatile days heading into the Christmas shopping season.

Understanding the level of severity of the variant “will take days to several weeks”, said WHO. And vaccine maker BioNTech needs up to two weeks to figure out whether the shot it makes with Pfizer needs to be reworked.

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So while Omicron has spread from Australia to the Netherlands and governments ban travel and mull lockdowns, markets may also gamble on central bankers turning more patient in their path towards rates normalisation.

Lots of speakers from the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank are lined up for today. On Sunday, speaking about risks to the recovery, ECB’s Lagarde said: “We now know our enemy and what measures to take.”

Key developments that should provide more direction to markets on Monday:

* ECB speakers: Governor Lagarde, ECB board members AndreaEnria, Isabel Schnabel, Pentti Hakkarainen; ECB Vice PresidentLuis de Guindos * Euro zone consumer sentiment/inflation expectations * German preliminary CPI/HICP * Fed speakers: Chairman Jerome Powell, New York PresidentJohn Williams, Governor Bowman * Emerging markets: Kenya central bank meets; Turkey tradebalance and bank NPL ratios (This story refiles to fix chart)

(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Saikat Chatterjee)

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UK regulator set to block Meta’s Giphy deal – FT

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November 29, 2021

(Reuters) -The UK competition regulator is expected to block Meta Platforms’ acquisition of online GIF platform Giphy in the coming days, the Financial Times reported https://www.ft.com/content/662c8e3f-4909-4bec-9131-c0237bb4897d on Monday.

The Competition and Markets Authority is set to reverse the deal in what would be the first time the watchdog has reversed a Big Tech acquisition, the report said, citing individuals close to the matter.

Meta Platforms and the regulator did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters sent outside working hours.

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The regulator had in October fined the U.S. social media giant Facebook, now Meta, 50.5 million pound ($67.35 million) for breaching an order that was imposed during an investigation into its purchase of the GIF platform, Giphy.

Facebook bought Giphy, a website for making and sharing animated images, or GIFs, in May last year to integrate it with its photo-sharing app, Instagram. The deal was then pegged at $400 million by Axios.

($1 = 0.7499 pounds)

(Reporting by Sneha Bhowmik in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V)

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Evergrande shares fall after chairman cuts stake; Fantasia suspends trading

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November 29, 2021

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Shares in China Evergrande Group fell as much as 4.8% on Monday morning, after its chairman trimmed his stake in the cash-strapped property developer to raise about $344 million.

The group’s electric vehicle unit, China Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group Ltd, also dropped more than 5% after it said the company was still exploring ways to pump capital into the unit with different investors.

Evergrande has been scrambling to raise capital as it grapples with more than $300 billion in liabilities and Chinese authorities have told its chairman, Hui Ka Yan, to use some of his personal wealth to help pay bondholders, sources have said.

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Evergrande failed to pay coupons totalling $82.5 million due on Nov. 6 and investors are on tenterhooks to see if it can meet its obligations before a 30-day grace period ends on Dec 6.

The developer disclosed late on Friday that Hui had sold 1.2 billion shares in the company at an average price of HK$2.23 each, lowering his stake in the Shenzhen-based real estate developer to 67.9% from 77%.

Once China’s top-selling developer, Evergrand’e troubles have hit the broader Chinese property sector with a string of debt defaults and credit rating downgrades of its peers in the last couple of months.

Fantasia Holdings suspended trading in company shares on Monday pending release of information. On Thursday, the developer said a winding-up petition was filed against a unit related to an outstanding loan.

(Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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