* Blackstone plans to list up to 8 companies - source
* In process of five sales - source
* CEO Schwarzman says worst is behind industry - source
* Blackstone shares up more than 8 percent
(Adds market reaction in paragraphs 4 and 16)
DUBAI, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Private equity firm Blackstone
plans to take advantage of improved equity markets
to list up to eight of its portfolio companies, according to a
source who received a letter the firm sent to investors.
Blackstone's CEO, Stephen Schwarzman, told investors that
"at least for private equity, the worst is behind the
industry," a second source who has seen the letter said.
The letter, sent on Friday, shows that Blackstone is
positioning one company -- hospital staffing firm Team Health
-- for an IPO and is evaluating the potential for seven others,
the first source said.
Blackstone shares traded as much as 8.9 percent higher on
the New York Stock Exchange, and the news helped to lift
overall market sentiment.
One problem private equity firms have faced during the
market turmoil is the inability to exit investments through
initial public offerings or by selling to companies in the same
industry as the target -- known as "strategic buyers."
But private equity firms have been making the most of the
improved stock markets to exit some of their investments.
Rival Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co's [KKR.UL] Dollar
General filed for an initial public offering of up to $750
million in August and the company is considering others,
sources previously told Reuters.
The letter also says that Blackstone is separately in the
process of five sales of companies it owns. Of these, four have
already been announced and one is imminent, the source said.
One of the exits is Kosmos Energy's Ghanaian oil interests,
the source who has the letter said. Sources previously told
Reuters that Exxon Mobil
has agreed to buy Kosmos
Energy's stake in the Jubilee field. Kosmos is backed by
Blackstone and Warburg Pincus [WP.UL].
Those five realizations are expected to generate aggregate
proceeds of $2.8 billion, the source cited the letter as
Blackstone declined to comment.
Blackstone's chief operating officer, Tony James, said in
August that should the markets hold up and continue their
present trend, there will probably be some IPOs from
Blackstone's portfolio in the next 12 months, although he
stressed he was not promising a lot of exits.
"There are a couple of companies that are definitely
candidates," James said at the time. "There has also been a
rebound in the interest of strategic buyers," he added.
Team Health Holdings Inc, a hospital staffing company owned
by a unit of Blackstone, earlier in October filed to raise as
much as $100 million in an initial public offering, according
to a prospectus filed on Tuesday with the U.S. Securities and
Details from the letter were earlier reported by the
Blackstone shares were up 7.6 percent at $15.98 in early
(Reporting by Megan Davies, editing by Douwe Miedema, Hans
Peters and Matthew Lewis)