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King of Capital: The Remarkable Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Steve Schwarzman and Blackstone [Format Kindle]

David Carey , John E. Morris
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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The Debutants

"More Rumors About His Party Than About His Deals,” blared the front-page headline in the New York Times in late Janu­ary 2007. It was a curtain-raiser for what was shaping up to be the social event of the season, if not the era. By then, the buzz had been building for weeks. 
   Stephen Schwarzman, cofounder of the Blackstone Group, the world’s largest private equity firm, was about to turn sixty and was planning a fête. The financier’s lavish holiday parties  were already well known in Manhattan’s moneyed circles. One year Schwarzman and his wife deco­rated their twenty-four-room, two-floor spread in Park Avenue’s toniest apartment building to resemble Schwarzman’s favorite spot in St. Tropez, near their summer home on the French Riviera. For his birthday, he de­cided to top that, taking over the Park Avenue Armory, a fortified brick edifice that occupies a full square block amid the metropolis’s most ex­pensive addresses. 
   On the night of February 13 limousines queued up and the boldface names in tuxedos and evening dresses poured out and filed past an en­campment of reporters into the hangarlike armory. TV perennial Barbara Walters was there, Donald and Melania Trump, media diva Tina Brown, Cardinal Egan of the Archdiocese of New York, Sir Howard Stringer, the head of Sony, and a few hundred other luminaries, including the chief ex­ecutives of some of the nation’s biggest banks: Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Stanley O’Neal of Merrill Lynch, Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, and Jimmy Cayne of Bear Stearns. 
   Inside the cavernous armory hung “a huge indoor canopy . . . with a darkened sky of sparkling stars suspended above a grand chandelier,” mimicking the living room in Schwarzman’s $30 million apartment nearby, the New York Post reported the next day. The decor was copied, the paper observed, “even down to a grandfather clock and Old Masters paintings on the wall.” 
   R&B star Patti LaBelle was on hand to sing “Happy Birthday.” Beneath an immense portrait of the financier— also a replica of one hanging in his apartment— the headliners, singer Rod Stewart and comic Martin Short, strutted and joked into the late hours. Schwarzman had chosen the armory, Short quipped, because it was more intimate than his apartment. Stewart alone was known to charge $1 million for such appearances. 
   The $3 million gala was a self-coronation for the brash new king of a new Gilded Age, an era when markets were flush and crazy wealth saturated Wall Street and especially the private equity realm, where Schwarzman held sway as the CEO of Blackstone Group. 
   As soon became clear, the birthday affair was merely a warm-up for a more extravagant coming-out bash: Blackstone’s initial public offer­ing. By design or by luck, the splash of Schwarzman’s party magnified the awe and intrigue when Blackstone revealed its plan to go public five weeks later, on March 22. No other private equity firm of Blackstone’s size or stature had attempted such a feat, and Blackstone’s move made official what was already plain to the financial world: Private equity—the business of buying companies with an eye to selling them a few years later at a profit—had moved from the outskirts of the economy to its very center. Blackstone’s clout was so great and its prospects so promis­ing that the Chinese government soon came knocking, asking to buy 10 percent of the company. 
   When Blackstone’s shares began trading on June 22 they soared from $31 to $38, as investors clamored to own a piece of the business. At the closing price, the company was worth a stunning $38 billion—one-third as much as Goldman Sachs, the undisputed leader among Wall Street investment banks. 
   Going public had laid bare the fantastic profits that Schwarzman’s company was throwing off. So astounding and sensitive were those fig­ures that Blackstone had been reluctant to reveal them even to its own bankers, and it was not until a few weeks before the stock was offered to investors that Blackstone disclosed what its executives made. Blackstone had produced $2.3 billion of profits in 2006 for the firm’s sixty partners— a staggering $38 million apiece. Schwarzman personally had taken home $398 million that year. 
   That was just pay. The initial public offering, or IPO, yielded a sec­ond windfall for Schwarzman and his partners. Of the $7.1 billion Black-stone raised selling 23.6 percent of the company to public investors and the Chinese government, $4.1 billion went to the Blackstone partners themselves. Schwarzman personally collected $684 million selling a small fraction of his stake. His remaining shares were worth $9.4 billion, en­suring his place among the richest of the rich. Peter Peterson, Blackstone’s eighty- year- old, semiretired cofounder, garnered $1.9 billion. 
   The IPO took place amid a financial revolution in which Blackstone and a coterie of competitors were wresting control of corporations around the globe. The private equity, or leveraged buyout, industry was flexing its muscle on a scale not seen since the 1980s. Blackstone, Kohlberg Kra­vis Roberts and Company, Carlyle Group, Apollo Global Management, Texas Pacific Group, and a half-dozen others, backed by tens of billions of dollars from pension funds, university endowments, and other big investors, had been inching their way up the corporate ladder, taking over $10 billion companies, then $20 billion, $30 billion, and $40 bil­lion companies. By 2007 private equity was behind one of every five merg­ers worldwide and there seemed to be no limit to its ambition. There was even talk that a buyout firm might swallow Home Depot for $100 billion.
Private equity now permeated the economy. You  couldn’t purchase a ticket on Orbitz.com, visit a Madame Tussauds wax museum, or drink an Orangina without lining Blackstone’s pockets. If you bought coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts or a teddy bear at Toys “R” Us, slept on a Simmons mattress, skimmed the waves on a Sea- Doo jet ski, turned on a Grohe designer faucet, or purchased razor blades at a Boots pharmacy in Lon­don, some other buyout firm was benefiting. Blackstone alone owned all or part of fifty-one companies employing a half-million people and gen­erating $171 billion in sales every year, putting it on a par with the tenth-largest corporation in the world.
The reach of private equity was all the more astonishing for the fact that these firms had tiny staffs and had long operated in the shadows, seldom speaking to the press or revealing details of their investments. Goldman Sachs had 30,500 employees and its profits were published every quarter. Blackstone, despite its vast industrial and real estate hold­ings, had a mere 1,000 employees and its books were private until it went public. Some of its competitors that controlled multibillion-dollar companies had only the sketchiest of websites. 
   Remarkably, Blackstone, Kohlberg Kravis, Carlyle, Apollo, TPG, and most other big private equity houses remained under the control of their founders, who still called the shots internally and, ultimately, at the companies they owned. Had there been any time since the robber barons of the nineteenth century when so much wealth and so many productive assets had come into the hands of so few? 
   Private equity’s power on Wall Street had never been greater. Where buyout firms had once been supplicants of the banks they relied on to finance their takeovers, the banks had grown addicted to the torrent of fees the firms were generating and now bent over backward to oblige the Blackstones of the world. In a telling episode in 2004, the investment arms of Credit Suisse First Boston and JPMorgan Chase, two of the world’s largest banks, made the mistake of outbidding Blackstone, Kohlberg Kravis, and TPG for an Irish drugmaker, Warner Chilcott. Out­raged, Kohlberg Kravis cofounder Henry Kravis and TPG’s Jim Coulter read the banks the riot act. How dare they compete with their biggest clients! The drug takeover went through, but the banks got the message. 
   JPMorgan Chase soon shed the private equity subsidiary that had bid on the drug company and Credit Suisse barred its private equity group from competing for large companies of the sort that Blackstone, TPG, and Kohlberg Kravis target.
To some of Blackstone’s rivals, the public attention was nothing new. Kohlberg Kravis, known as KKR, had been in the public eye ever since the mid-1980s, when it bought familiar companies like the Safeway super­market chain and Beatrice Companies, which made Tropicana juices and Sara Lee cakes. KKR came to epitomize that earlier era of frenzied take­overs with its audacious $31.3 billion buyout in 1988 of RJR Nabisco, the tobacco and food giant, after a heated bidding contest. That corpo­rate mud wrestle was immortalized in the best-selling book Barbarians at the Gate and made Henry Kravis, KKR’s cofounder, a  house hold name. Carlyle Group, another giant private equity firm, meanwhile, had made waves by hiring former president George H. W. Bush and former British prime minister John Major to help it bring in investors. Until Schwarz­man’s party and Blackstone’s IPO shone a light on Blackstone, Schwarz­man’s firm had been the quiet behemoth of the industry, and perhaps the greatest untold success story of Wall Street. 
   Schwarzman and Blackstone’s cofounder, Peterson, had arrived late to the game, in 1985, more than a decade after KKR and others had honed the art of the leveraged buyout: borrowing money to buy a com­pany with only the company itself as collateral. By 2007 Schwarzman’s firm— and it had truly been his firm virtually from the start— had eclipsed its top competitors on every front. It was bigger than KKR and Carlyle, managing $88 billion of investors’ money, and had racked up higher re­turns on its buyout funds than most others. In addition to its mammoth portfolio of corporations, it controlled $100 billion worth of real estate and oversaw $50 billion invested in other firms’ hedge funds— investment categories in which its competitors merely dabbled. Alone among top buyout players, Blackstone also had elite teams of bankers who advised other companies on mergers and bankruptcies. Over twenty-two years, Schwarzman and Peterson had invented a fabulously profitable new form of Wall Street power house whose array of investment and advisory ser­vices and financial standing rivaled those of the biggest investment banks. 
   Along the way, Blackstone had also been the launching pad for other luminaries of the corporate and financial worlds, including Henry Silverman, who as CEO of Cendant Corporation became one of corporate America’s most acquisitive empire builders, and Laurence Fink, the founder of BlackRock, Inc., a $3.2 trillion debt-investment colossus that originally was part of Blackstone before Fink and Schwarzman had a falling-out over money. 
   For all the power and wealth private equity firms had amassed, lever­aged buyouts (LBOs or buyouts for short) had always been controver­sial, a lightning rod for anger over the effects of capitalism. As Blackstone and its peers gobbled up ever- bigger companies in 2006 and 2007, all the fears and criticisms that had dogged the buyout business since the 1980s resurfaced. 
   In part it was guilt by association. The industry had come of age in the heyday of corporate raiders, saber-rattling financiers who launched hostile takeover bids and worked to overthrow managements. Buyout firms rarely made hostile bids, preferring to strike deals with manage­ment before buying a company. But in many cases they swooped in to buy companies that were under siege and, once in control, they often laid off workers and broke companies into pieces just like the raiders. Thus they, too, came to be seen as “asset strippers” who attacked companies and feasted on their carcasses, selling off good assets for a quick profit, and leaving just the bones weighed down by piles of debt. 
   The backlash against the buyout boom of the 2000s began in Eu­rope, where a German cabinet member publicly branded private equity and hedge funds “locusts” and British unions lobbied to rein in these takeovers. By the time the starry canopy was being strung in the Park Avenue Armory for Schwarzman’s birthday party, the blowback had come Stateside. American unions feared the new wave of LBOs would lead to job losses, and the enormous profits being generated by private equity and hedge funds had caught the eye of Congress. 
   “I told him that I thought his party was a very bad idea before he had his party,” says Henry Silverman, the former Blackstone partner who went on to head Cendant. Proposals were already circulating to jack up taxes on investment fund managers, Silverman knew, and the party could only fan the political flames. 
   Even the conservative Wall Street Journal fretted about the implica­tions of the extravaganza, saying, “Mr. Schwarzman’s birthday party, and the swelling private equity fortunes it symbolizes, are manifestations of . . . rising in equality. . . .  Financiers who celebrate fast fortunes made while workers face stagnant pay and declining job security risk becoming targets for a growing dissent.” When, on the eve of Blackstone’s IPO four months after the party, new tax proposals  were announced, they were immediately dubbed the Blackstone Tax and the Journal blamed Schwarz­man, saying his “garish 60th birthday party this year played into the hands of populists looking for a real-life Gordon Gekko to skewer.” Schwarzman’s exuberance had put the industry, and himself, on trial. 
   It was easy to see the sources of the fears. Private equity embodies the capitalist ethos in its purest form, obsessed with making companies more valuable, whether that means growing, shrinking, folding one business and launching another, merging, or moving. It is clearheaded, unsentimental ownership with a vengeance, and a deadline.
In fact, the acts for which private equity firms are usually indicted— laying off workers, selling assets, and generally shaking up the status quo—are the stock in trade of most corporations today. More workers are likely to lose their jobs in a merger of competitors than they are in an LBO. But because a buyout represents a different form of ownership and the company is virtually assured of changing hands again in a few years, the process naturally stirs anxieties. 
   The claim that private equity systematically damages companies is just wrong. The buyout business never would have survived if that were true. Few executives would stay on— as they typically do— if they thought the business was marked for demolition. Most important, private equity firms wouldn’t be able to sell their companies if they made a habit of gutting them. The public pension funds that are the biggest investors in buyout funds would stop writing checks if they thought private equity was all about job destruction. 
   A growing body of academic research has debunked the strip-and-flip caricature. It turns out, for instance, that the stocks of private equity–owned companies that go public perform better than shares of newly public companies on average, belying the notion that buyouts leave companies hobbled. As for jobs, private equity–owned companies turn out to be about on par with other businesses, cutting fractionally more jobs in the early years after a buyout on average but adding more jobs than the aver­age company over the longer haul. In theory, the debt they pile on the companies they buy should make them more vulnerable, but the failure rate for companies that have undergone LBOs hasn’t differed much from that of similar private and public companies over several decades, and by some measures it is actually lower.
Though the strip-and-flip image persists, the biggest private equity profits typically derive from buying out-of-favor or troubled companies and reviving them, or from expanding businesses. Many of Blackstone’s most successful investments have been growth plays. It built a small British amusements operator, Merlin Entertainments, into a major inter­national player, for example, with Legoland toy parks and Madame Tus­sauds wax museums across two continents. Likewise it transformed a humdrum German bottle maker, Gerresheimer AG, into a much more profitable manufacturer of sophisticated pharmaceutical packaging. It has also staked start-ups, including an oil exploration company that found a major new oil field off the coast of West Africa. None of these fit the cliché of the strip- and-flip. 
   Contrary to the allegation that buyout firms are just out for a quick buck, CEOs of companies like Merlin and Gerresheimer say they were free to take a longer-term approach under private equity owners than they had been able to do when their businesses were owned by public companies that were obsessed with producing steady short-term profits.

Notwithstanding the controversy over the new wave of buyouts and the brouhaha over Schwarzman’s birthday party, Blackstone succeeded in going public. By then, however, Schwarzman and others at Blackstone were nervous that the markets  were heading for a fall. The very day Blackstone’s stock started trading, June 22, 2007, there was an ominous sign of what was to come. Bear Stearns, a scrappy investment bank long admired for its trading prowess, announced that it would bail out a hedge fund it managed that had suffered catastrophic losses on mortgage secu­rities. In the months that followed, that debacle reverberated through the financial system. By the autumn, the lending machine that had fueled the private equity boom with hundreds of billions of dollars of cheap debt had seized up. 
   Like shopaholics who hit their credit card limits, private equity firms found their credit refused. Blackstone, which had bought the nation’s biggest owner of office towers, Equity Office Properties Trust, that Feb­ruary for a record $39 billion and signed a $26 billion takeover agree­ment for the Hilton Hotels chain in July 2007, would not pull off a deal over $4 billion for the next two and a half years. Its profits sank so deeply in 2008 that it couldn’t pay a dividend at the end of the year. That meant that Schwarzman received no investment profits that year and had to content himself with just his base pay of $350,000, less than a thousandth of what he had taken home two years earlier. Blackstone’s shares, which had sold for $31 in the IPO, slumped to $3.55 in early 2009, a barometer for the buyout business as a whole. 
   LBOs were not the root cause of the financial crisis, but private eq­uity was caught in the riptide when the markets retreated. Well-known companies that had been acquired at the peak of the market began to collapse under the weight of their new debt as the economy slowed and business dropped off: house hold retailer Linens ’n Things, the mattress maker Simmons, and Reader’s Digest, among others. Many more private equity–owned companies that have survived for the moment still face a day of reckoning in 2013 or 2014 when the loans used to buy them come due. Like homeowners who overreached with the help of subprime mort­gages and find their home values are underwater, private equity firms are saddled with companies that are worth less than what they owe. If they don’t recover their value or renegotiate their loans, there won’t be enough collateral to refinance their debt, and they may be sold at a loss or for­feited to their creditors. 
   In the wake of the financial crisis, many wrote off private equity. It has taken its hits and will likely take some more before the economy fully recovers. As in past downturns, there is bound to be a shake-out as investors flee firms that invested rashly at the top of the market. Com­pared with other parts of the financial system and the stock markets, however, private equity fared well. Indeed, the risks and the leverage of the buyout industry were modest relative to those borne by banks and mortgage companies. A small fraction of private equity–owned compa­nies failed, but they didn’t take down other institutions, they required no government bailouts, and their owners didn’t melt down. 
   On the contrary, buyout firms were among the first to be called in when the financial system was crumbling. When the U.S. Treasury De­partment and the Federal Reserve Bank scrambled to cobble together bailouts of financial institutions such as Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and American International Group in the autumn of 2008, they dialed up Blackstone and others, seeking both money and ideas. Private equity firms were also at the table when the British treasury and the Bank of England tried to rescue Britain’s giant, failing savings bank Northern Rock. (Ulti­mately the shortfalls at those institutions were too great for even the big­gest private funds to remedy.) The U.S. government again turned to private equity in 2009 to help fix the American auto industry. As its “auto czar,” the Obama administration picked Steven Rattner, the founder of the pri­vate equity firm Quadrangle Group, and to help oversee the turnaround of General Motors Corporation, it named David Bonderman, the founder of Texas Pacific Group, and Daniel Akerson, a top executive of Carlyle Group, to the carmaker’s board of directors. 
   The crisis of 2007 to 2009 wasn’t the first for private equity. The buyout industry suffered a near-death experience in a similar credit crunch at the end of the 1980s and was wounded again when the tech­nology and telecommunications bubble burst in the early 2000s. Each time, however, it rebounded and the surviving firms emerged larger, tak­ing in more money and targeting new kinds of investments.
Coming out of the 2008– 9 crisis, the groundwork was in place for another revival. For starters, the industry was sitting on a half-trillion dollars of capital waiting to be invested— a sum not so far short of the $787 billion U.S. government stimulus package of 2009. Blackstone alone had $29 billion on hand to buy companies, real estate, and debt at the end of 2009 at a time when many sellers were still distressed, and that sum would be supplemented several times over with borrowed money. With such mounds of capital at a time when capital was in short supply, the potential to make profits was huge. Though new fund- raising slowed to a trickle in 2008 and 2009, it was poised to pick back up as three of the largest public pension funds in the United States said in late 2009 that they would put even more of their money into private equity funds in the future. 
   The story of Blackstone parallels that of private equity and its trans­formation from a niche game played by a handful of financial entrepre­neurs and upstart firms into an established business of giant institutions backed by billions from public pension funds and other mainstays of the investment world. Since Blackstone’s IPO in 2007, KKR has also gone public and Apollo Global Management, one of their top competitors, has taken steps to do the same, drawing back the veil that enshrouded private equity and cementing its position as a mainstream component of the financial system. 
   A history of Blackstone is also a chronicle of an entrepreneur whose savvy was obscured by the ostentation of his birthday party. From an in­auspicious beginning, through fits and starts, some disastrous early invest­ments, and chaotic years when talent came and went, Schwarzman built a major financial institution. In many ways, Blackstone’s success re­flected his personality, beginning with the presumptuous notion in 1985 that he and Peterson could raise a $1 billion LBO fund when neither had ever led a buyout. But it was more than moxie. For all the egotism on display at the party, Schwarzman from the beginning recruited partners with personalities at least as large as his own, and he was a listener who routinely solicited input from even the most junior employees. In 2002, when the firm was mature, he also recruited his heir in management and handed over substantial power to him. Even his visceral loathing of los­ing money— to which current and former partners constantly attest— shaped the firm’s culture and may have helped it dodge the worst excesses at the height of the buyout boom in 2006 and 2007. 
   Schwarzman and peers such as Henry Kravis represent a new breed of capitalists, positioned between the great banks and the corporate con­glomerates of an earlier age. Like banks, they inject capital, but unlike banks, they take control of their companies. Like sprawling global cor­porations, their businesses are diverse and span the world. But in con­trast to corporations, their portfolios of businesses change year to year and each business is managed independently, standing or falling on its own. The impact of these moguls and their firms far exceeds their size precisely because they are constantly buying and selling— putting their stamp on thousands of businesses while they own them and influencing the public markets by what they buy and how they remake the compa­nies they acquire.

From the Hardcover edition.

Revue de presse

“The authors … [take] us from the early days of the Blackstone Group, when the firm was just two guys and a secretary, to the buyout boom, when Mr. Schwarzman’s conspicuous consumption became a symbol of the new Gilded Age. In between, the book dives deeply into the firm’s signature deals — Celanese! Nalco! Distressed cable bonds! — that made Mr. Schwarzman and his partners so rich. It also delivers some fun details about many of the now-famous Wall Street players that did tours of duty at the firm. —New York Times DealBook

“Carey and Morris’ thorough reporting offers a compelling look into the little understood Wall Street giant and the secrets of its success.”
—Worth Magazine

“[R]anks as one of the most even-handed treatments of the industry. David Carey and John Morris . . . received unusual access to Blackstone. . . . This allowed them to chronicle the firm in full and entertaining fashion across its 25-year history.”
Bloomberg Brief – Mergers

“[A] broad history of private equity, with Blackstone as the touchstone.”

“Check out "King of Capital" because it's got gossip, it's got brains, and it's as readable as hell. And it's got some really good Schwarzman stories too.”
The Deal

"King of Capital aspires to be a serious portrait of Blackstone and the way that Schwarzman so brilliantly built it up, scoring numerous coups along the way and avoiding the mistakes of many competitors. And it does a fine job in what it sets out to do." — Financial Times

“The authors link Blackstone’s history to the larger story of private equity’s expansion and its relationship to corporate America. They offer a lucid explanation of how the debt markets evolved from junk bonds to securitised loans, changing the types of deals that private-equity firms were able to finance.” — The Economist

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  • Format : Format Kindle
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  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 402 pages
  • Editeur : Crown Business; Édition : Reprint (5 octobre 2010)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B003E8AJXI
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Une histoire du Private Equity 15 septembre 2013
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Une fabuleuse immersion dans le monde fabuleux du Private Equity avec l'histoire passionnante d'un leader de la gestion alternative, Blackstone. Pour des personnes voulant travailler ou travaillant dans ce domaine, un "must be read". Au-delà de l'histoire de la firme et de l'homme qui la porte, S.Schwarzman, c'est aussi une histoire du Private Equity et de ces évolutions au cours des différentes crises.
Un livre passionnant
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Carey's book is the Definitive Primer on Private Equity - It is Spellbinding 22 novembre 2010
Par Richard of Connecticut - Publié sur Amazon.com
The story begins with the history of private equity. Stephen Schwarzman the ultimate central character in this book is a young mergers and acquisitions partner at Lehman Brothers. Henry Kravis of Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts (KKR) is doing one of the first private equity buyouts called Houdaille Industries. It's a $380 million dollar deal. Schwarzman is sitting in his office at Lehman Brothers, and saying how could this be? How could KKR get this done? What are the details? It was a eureka type moment.

Schwarzman orders up the financing document, and can't believe what he is reading. He is looking at a revolutionary financial concept that he never dreamed could exist. He knows that all great achievements start out as merely a thought, and then someone must act on the thought. KKR has already been in the business the better part of a decade when Schwarzman latches onto the concept.

He tries to get Lehman Brothers to buy into the concept. They won't go, even though he explains that with one deal we could make more money than we make in a year doing everything else we do. Ultimately there is a falling out between glamour boy Pete Peterson who is running the firm with Lou Glucksman, the in your face trader who can't stand Peterson. Glucksman wins; Peterson leaves the firm and with Schwarzman and a secretary proceed over time to build Blackstone from nothing, just an idea. Together Schwarzman the young man, and Peterson the old tiger, they build Blackstone into a private equity powerhouse.

It's all here, blemishes and all. You are reading financial history as firms collapse and private equity ascends. Blackstone proceeds to do deal after deal, year after year, making billions for 60 plus partners, Schwarzman would have paydays as big as $400 million in one year, most of it taxed at capital gains rates of 15% because of what is called "the carry".

By 2007, one out of every five mergers would be worldwide would be done by private equity groups. Blackstone with 1000 employees would dominate the industry with just a handful of other players called Carlyle, Apollo, and TPG. They would build the private equity industry into a giant that would take on traditional investment banking firms.

Schwarzman in January of 2007 gives himself a multi-million dollar birthday party by renting the Park Avenue Armory, and paying Rod Stewart a million dollars for a couple of hours of singing. By the way, you really need to know this. I have been in Wall Street for 40 years, whenever you have outlandish things happening like this birthday party, It is ALWAYS a sign of a market top developing, and there is going to be a price to be paid.

Within months of the party, Blackstone goes public with a valuation built up over 20 years equal to one third of Goldman Sachs valuation built up over more than a century. Blackstone has a 1000 employees and Goldman 30,000 plus. Blackstone has 2.3 billion in profits in 2006, and Schwarzman's personal net worth approaches $10 billion. Pete Peterson who is worth a couple of billion is there for the ride as well. Peterson made an absolutely brilliant comment at a luncheon I attended a number of months ago. He said the difference between him and other investment bankers he has known is that "He knows the meaning of the word enough." Think about it, it is profound.

The book tells the whole story from the ground up. It takes you through the public offering, and the ups and downs of the whole industry. You will see how other firms operate as well. After reading this book, there will be no surprises for you as a reader regarding the private equity industry. There is one last vital point that needs to be made and the book talks about it.

In the next few years, the entire industry must refinance the debts of many of the corporations and businesses they have bought through the years. If the money is not there to be borrowed, than it is possible that private equity by itself could be the driver of another financial crisis. I personally believe not.

Whenever these types of crisis hit, they come out of nowhere, and there are only one or two people who predict them, and they had luck on their side. You are dealing with an outlier event or what some people now call a black swan event. I promise you will love this book, and thank you for reading this review.

Richard C. Stoyeck
69 internautes sur 78 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Captivating Read - I Finished It In a Day 6 octobre 2010
Par E. Agarwal - Publié sur Amazon.com
My favorite Stephen Schwarzman story is a personal one. I used to work at Lehman Brothers as an investment banker. We were (of course) bookrunners on the Blackstone IPO, and as was typical for every other IPO, the management of the company comes and teaches our traders about the value of the company. They, in turn, go and pitch the stock to their clients.

Usually it's the CEO and CFO of a company generating about $20mm of net income, an $86mm IPO, and we would struggle to fill the room. In this case, it was Stephen Schwarzman. The man was already a billionaire several times over, and the room was standing room only. Dick Fuld himself came down from the perch of the 33rd floor, and told a room full of his own employees and Stephen Schwarzman, "If we do this IPO right, Steve will be worth more than this whole company."

Boy, he had no idea how right he was.

When I heard this book was coming out, the finance nerd in me eagerly awaited and found it which local store would get it the fastest because I didn't want to wait for the online shipping time.

So, I bought it yesterday and read it in a day. It's awesome. Steve is a genius in so many ways, and the book does a good job of balancing personal/lighter stories along with the heavier finance stuff. You learn about Pete Peterson (author of the scary Running on Empty), and how together, they formed what's still the worlds largest PE firm.

I'm being purposly vague because I want people to read and experience this book for themselves.

Get it, read it. You won't be disappointed.
39 internautes sur 46 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 If you like this kind of thing 3 novembre 2010
Par Narada - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
This might be the kind of thing you will like. The writers clearly had access to Steve S, and are being much more positive about him than any other source I have seen (I should say that while I do not know Schwartzman, I know many of the senior people of the pre-2004 Blackstone. While all of them did very well out of the business, none of them were fond of their fearless leader). The authors are also very positive about private equity in general, which makes the book read more like a puff piece than I would have liked. The actual contents are mostly a laundry list of deals, and some of the narrative is fairly insightful, while some just puts one to sleep (they did this, it did not work, they did this, it did work, etc, etc, etc).

To summarize: if you are very interested in the private equity business, by all means, read this book, otherwise I am not sure it will keep your attention.
13 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Read up on Schwarzman 12 janvier 2013
Par investingbythebooks - Publié sur Amazon.com
For a while in 2006 it felt like private equity would buy up the universe. Intoxicated by rising pension allocations and a tidal wave of credit, PE companies acquired anything in their sight. The bonanza was crowned with the extravagant 60th birthday party of Blackstone's celebrity CEO Steve Schwarzman. Then came the hangover. Financial journalists David Carey and John Morris walk us through the making of Blackstone while at the same time giving the reader a history of the PE business.

In a way this is a story much like many others about successful entrepreneurs with initial struggles and self-doubt before the business takes off, quick expansion and then the inevitable need for outside management additions, structure and procedures as the business matures and gets scale. Schwarzman really is a gifted competitor. By focusing on risks and not overreaching when others are exuberant, by keeping reserves to opportunistically invest when others are terrified, by diversifying his firm into often counter cyclical product lines and by being impressively flexible to changes in the environment that PE operates in, he has over the long time won by not losing. One by one most of the competitors over-invested in good times and had to scale down to their ambitions. In the end only the arch enemy KKR with Henry Kravitz at the helm stood between Blackstone and the domination of the PE-sector.

One fascinating aspect of the two great PE booms (the LBO/corporate raider era of the late 80's and the period 2004 to mid-2007) that I - as a European - hadn't realized is how dependent they were on junk bond financing in the US. First there were Michael Milken's "original" junk bonds and in the later period there was an even larger flow of liquidity through CLOs - securitized loans pretty similar to those that flooded the US housing market with credits and nearly killed it. This correlation between varying credit conditions and volumes of PE-deals is probably the single most serious obstacle for the buying-low-and-selling-high-practice that PE-companies should engage in.

The authors are not only financial journalists; they both have backgrounds as writers for M&A- and PE-related magazines. Unfortunately this makes them slightly too impressed by the PE-business and the dominant characters of the trade. It's not that they can't see problems and two sides to a story but it's all too evident who's side they will take in the end. Another quarrel one could have with the text is that the authors present deal after deal (and they all but a few turn out roaring successes) but the reader still doesn't really get any deep insight into how Blackstone screens for prospects, analyze companies and structure the deals. Nor will the reader learn more of the management methods employed by Blackstone than fits on the backside cover of most corporate finance books. I realize Blackstone might not want to reveal too much but less quantity and more quality with regards to the description of Blackstone's deal history would have served the book well.

Eqtbooks.com rates books according to "knowledge content", any book like this that is semi-fiction will have a hard time to compete which is a bit unfair and Carey/Morris are good story tellers. However, I actually didn't learn that much new on the workings of private equity.

If you specifically want to read up on Steve Schwarzman and Blackstone this is the book for you. If you want an entertaining story of the larger than life happenings in private equity, Barbarians at the Gate is still unmatched.

This is a review by investingbythebooks.com
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Very Solid Book 20 mars 2011
Par R. Spell - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
An exceptional book on Schwarzman and Blackstone. Yes, he's a billionaire and had a 60th birthday party that was over the top and defined the height of private equity. Yes, he had a running feud with Henry Kravis of KKR. But there is so much more about this great success story such as his background at Lehman as well as very unique relationship with founder Pete Peterson who currently spends great time and wealth drawing attention to the debt crisis in America.

If you have a background in finance this is a great book but it's written simply enough that non finance people would understand the concepts and greatly enjoy the read also. Is he a great American or just a wealthy guy who stepped on toes to make it to the top? You read the book and decide.
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