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Blackstone’s real-estate business is totally fine, so please stop asking about it

Almost Friday! Dan DeFrancesco in NYC, and I’m celebrating the end to our long national nightmare: Tom Brady’s retirement. If you really hate yourself, here are 23 photos from his career along with 20 things you probably didn’t know about him.

On tap, we’ve got stories on another executive departing Goldman Sachs’ Marcus, Europe’s hottest fintechs, and some photos of that crazy rooftop pool in Singapore

But first, leave Blackstone alone!

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Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman in front of a blue background as he visits "Maria Bartiromo's Wall Street" at Fox Business Network Studios on September 18, 2019 in New York City.Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman

Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

1. Nothing to see here! 

Blackstone’s real-estate business is literally fine, everyone.

Yes, the private-equity giant had to limit investors from pulling their money out from the $69 billion Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust (BREIT) in December. 

And yes, it’s true that Blackstone turned to the University of California to bolster the fund by announcing not one, but two, investments within the course of a month, totaling $4.5 billion at very generous terms.

And yes, it’s also true that Blackstone had to tell investors again on Wednesday that investors were pulling money from BREIT. The fund hit its monthly redemption limit in January, Blackstone said in a notice posted on its website.

And yes, Blackstone also announced some leadership changes on Wednesday that positioned longtime executive Frank Cohen to now focus on BREIT while Wesley LePatner was tapped to take over for Cohen as head of Core+, the firm’s wider core real-estate investment strategy. Cohen will also take on a newly created role of Core+ chairman.

That’s in addition to A.J. Murphy, an executive at Standard Investments, serving as Blackstone’s new COO of corporate private equity and Heather von Zuben’s appointment as COO of Blackstone’s credit arm. 

It’s true all this news comes as Blackstone is preparing to wage war with tenants who live in buildings it owns by either raising their rent or outright evicting them. In fact, Blackstone-owned companies have already filed eviction lawsuits against hundreds of tenants in Georgia and Florida, per the Financial Times

And Blackstone did also miss on its fourth-quarter earnings and fall short of its goal of reaching $1 trillion in assets by 2022

But everything is totally fine. In fact, as CEO Stephen Schwarzman and president Jon Gray both pointed out on the fourth-quarter earnings call, it’s actually the media that’s ruining all the fun. (Wait, what?)

“The response to our performance has been extremely positive. In 2022, our sales in the private wealth channel totaled a remarkable $48 billion, not exactly what you’re hearing in the media,” Schwarzman said, according to a transcript of the call by research provider Sentieo.

“The media has created a different narrative, but the customers are fundamentally happy. That’s why I believe as the world normalizes, we will again begin to see flows,” Gray added.

As much as I enjoy poking fun at Blackstone, Schwarzman and Gray aren’t necessarily wrong, to a degree. You can’t really judge a fund like BREIT on a month-to-month basis. The fund posted a 8.4% return in 2022 and 12.5% return since its inception, according to Blackstone’s website.

Still, no matter how much the two executives would like to spin it, you also can’t deny it’s been a tough few months for Blackstone’s real-estate business. 

If I might offer some unsolicited advice, perhaps the issue is perception. 

Luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe has a famous slogan that is both genius and vomit-inducing:

“You never really own a Patek Philippe. You simply look after it for the next generation.”

Maybe BREIT could adopt a similar moniker? 

“You never really own shares in BREIT. You simply hold them long enough for your children to cash them out for a house in the Hamptons.”

Click here to read more on Blackstone’s leadership shakeup.

In other news:

Marina Bay Sands

TILT Photography/Shutterstock

2. Another Marcus mover. Goldman Sachs’ ailing consumer business just lost another executive with the departure of Doug Villone, who was an MD and ran operations and customer service at Marcus. More on Villone’s new role at Barclays.  

3. Fintech abroad! We mapped out 27 of the most exciting European fintechs to watch in 2023, according to recommendations from more than a dozen of the top investors in the region. Check out the entire list here.

4. Rates go up… again. But it’s not that bad! The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 25 basis points, and it could be another nod toward us avoiding a recession altogether. More on Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s thinking.

5. Cracking down on credit-card late fees. A new rule proposal by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would limit “exorbitant” credit-card late fees. More on the proposal that could save Americans up to $9 billion a year.

6. It’s now JPMachtThe largest US bank by assets has its eyes set on Europe, specifically Germany, with plans for a new digital bank, Bloomberg reports. Here’s why JPMorgan is betting big on Deutschland.

7. Everything you need to know about the guy behind the robot that’s about to take over the world. OpenAI’s ChatGPT is the talk of the town. So it’s worth getting to know the company’s CEO, Sam Altman. Here’s more on the man behind one of the world’s most-watched startups.

8. Speaking of taking over the world… Twitter just applied for a series of licenses that would enable it to process payments. More on Elon Musk’s vision for X, an “everything app” in a similar vein to Chinese super app WeChat.

9. What it takes to land at a Big 4 accounting firm. Ginnie Carlier, EY Americas vice chair of talent, shares the qualities she looks for in candidates and how to show them off during interviews. And while we are on the topic of job hunting, a senior director at LinkedIn has some tips for how you can slide into the DMs of someone with your dream job. Click here to learn more.

10. We got a tour of that hotel in Singapore with the crazy infinity pool you always see on Instagram. You know exactly the one I’m talking about. Here’s a bunch of photos inside the Marina Bay Sands, which has suites that can run as high as $17,000 per night.

Curated by Dan DeFrancesco in New York. Feedback or tips? Email, tweet @dandefrancesco, or connect on LinkedIn. Edited by Jeffrey Cane (tweet @jeffrey_cane) in New York and Hallam Bullock (tweet @hallam_bullock) in London. 


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