| HONG KONG
HONG KONG Oct 26 Blackstone has agreed
to buy the Huamin Imperial Building in Shanghai, a source with
knowledge of the matter said, an office tower which media
reports say is valued at around RMB7 billion ($1.12 billion).
Earlier, Stephen Schwarzman, CEO and co-founder of
Blackstone, the world's largest alternative asset manager, told
reporters on Friday the firm had committed to buy a Shanghai
office building, without naming the property.
The source confirmed the building as the
50,000-square-metre Huamin Imperial.
"It's a situation that became available as a result of some
of the pressure among real estate developers that's occurring in
China," Schwarzman said at Blackstone's Hong Kong offices.
The Huamin Imperial, a grade A office and 5-star hotel
complex in Shanghai's Jing'an district, is 95 percent complete,
and Blackstone will finish the construction and lease it out,
said the source, who could not be named as details of the deal
Schwarzman expects Blackstone, which manages $205 billion in
assets and whose portfolio companies employ more than 730,000
people globally, to become among the largest buyers of
commercial real estate in Australia and India.
"We are going to be a bit more aggressive, particularly on
real estate," Antony Leung, Blackstone's Greater China chairman
and former Hong Kong financial secretary, said.
At more than $13 billion, Blackstone's latest real estate
fund dwarfs its rivals, giving it a huge advantage on deals,
"If no one else can write that cheque, what we choose to pay
is more or less what the price is," he added.
Blackstone has been relatively quiet on the private equity
deal front in Asia, despite increasing its staff by around
one-third over the past two years to around 35 private equity
professionals, and over 100 staff across the region now.
Schwarzman, who founded Blackstone in 1985 with Peter
Peterson, said the firm believes the slowdown in China has hit
bottom, but Hong Kong-based head of international private equity
Michael Chae was still cautious.
Chae said the performance of a lot of the larger private
equity deals in China in recent years "had not been great".
"We feel good about having been selective and disciplined in
that time period," Chae added.