Blackstone Group CEO Schwarzman took home $786 million in 2017

(Reuters) - Blackstone Group LP BX.N co-founder and Chief Executive Stephen Schwarzman took home about $786 million (572.4 million pounds) last year, making him the private equity industry's highest earner, a regulatory filing showed on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO - Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman speaks during an interview at Schwarzman College of Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, September 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

The compensation, largely due to Blackstone’s sale of some assets, exceeds the $425 million Schwarzman received in 2016 and his $734.2 million haul in 2015.

The son of a dry goods store owner, the 71-year-old private equity veteran, who owns close to a fifth of Blackstone, is pegged by Forbes to have an estimated net worth of $12.9 billion.

Blackstone’s portfolio of companies has more than 490,000 people on the payroll globally and manages money belonging to tens of millions of pensioners as well as sovereign wealth funds, according to Blackstone data.

In January, Blackstone agreed to buy a majority stake in the Financial and Risk business of Thomson Reuters Corp TRI.NTRI.TO, the parent of Reuters News, in a $20 billion deal. Reuters News will remain part of Thomson Reuters.

The bulk of Schwarzman’s 2017 earnings, some $661 million, came from dividend payments he received on his Blackstone stock. He also earned $125.5 million in executive compensation.

Schwarzman has stopped being at the forefront of every investment decision at Blackstone for several years, but he remains a prominent figure in fundraising, promoting the firm as a diversified alternative asset manager and recruiting talent.

Schwarzman last month elevated Jonathan Gray, 48, who turned Blackstone into the world’s biggest real estate investor, to president and chief operating officer, replacing Tony James and setting him up as his successor as CEO. James, 69, will stay with the firm as executive vice chairman.

For 2017, Gray received a base salary of $350,000 and an annual cash bonus payment of $25.8 million. He also received $116 million in dividends as a result of his ownership of Blackstone stock.

Schwarzman earned more than other co-founders of private equity firms. Apollo Global Management LP APO.N CEO Leon Black received $191.3 million in 2017, while Carlyle's CG.O three co-founders, David Rubenstein, William Conway and Daniel D'Aniello, took home a combined $192.6 million. For all four, the vast majority of earnings were from dividend payments.

KKR & Co KKR.N co-founders Henry Kravis and George Roberts received $169.7 million and $173 million, respectively. This was more evenly split between dividends and performance fee payments.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin in Berlin; Editing by Ben Klayman