The Willis Tower in Chicago, formerly known as the Sears Tower, was the tallest building in the world from 1973 until 1998, and now it is likely to be a gigantic investment prospect for Blackstone, as reported by the Real Deal.
Blackstone is likely to invest in the $1.5 billion skyscraper through its real estate fund, rather than through its private equity fund. Out of its $291 billion assets under management, the real estate portion comprises $81 billion. One of its largest recent real estate investments was Hilton Worldwide, which came public in 2013.
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While Blackstone is still a major shareholder, it has been taking profits on its position. Blackstone has seen significant success, and is now bigger than KKR, Apollo and Carlyle put together.
Blackstone was founded in 1997 by Stephen Schwarzman, who owns 45% of the firm and has made a name for himself in philanthropic as well as investing circles. He is known for his $100 million gift to the New York Public Library, his donations to the City Scholarship Fund, the Frick Collection, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the New York City Ballet and Partnership for New York City.
According to Crains, he founded Schwarzman scholars, similar to the concept of a Rhodes scholarship, but these students travel from around the world to study at China’s Tsinghua University. He told the Chronicle of Philanthropy that the purpose of the scholarship, awarded to 200 students annually, was to offset resentment of China’s economic progress. “I felt this was a potentially destabilizing scenario (the resentment), and it would lead to economic trade and possibly military tensions.”