Blackstone’s Schwarzman kickstarts UK asset grab

Blackstone Group CEO and co-founder Steve Schwarzman speaks at a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York, U.S., November 6, 2019. REUTERS/Gary He

LONDON, Sept 28 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Britain’s currency crisis may have an upside after all – at least for foreign investors. Blackstone’s (BX.N) Steve Schwarzman is paying 80 million pounds for 17th-century country estate Conholt Park, the City A.M. newspaper reported. That deal would have been agreed long before a recent collapse in sterling, prompted by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s so-called mini-budget, which pushed the pound down to $1.07. But it’s exactly the kind of purchase that will make more sense the lower the pound goes.

For stocks, bonds and other financial investments, whose values are based on a stream of cash flows, the benefits are nuanced. Prices go down in foreign-currency terms, but so do sterling earnings. And to the extent that future cash flows are denominated in dollars or euros, the sterling purchase price should rise.

It’s different for assets that either don’t generate any income or are worth owning for non-financial reasons, like country estates. The same may go for sports teams, prestigious London hotels and department stores. U.S. investors just bought Chelsea soccer club, while Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund last year swooped on rival Newcastle United. Buyers from both regions may further exploit the fact that Britain’s trophy assets just got a lot cheaper. (By Liam Proud)

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(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

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