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BX > SEC Filings for BX > Form 10-Q on 2-Nov-2012All Recent SEC Filings

Show all filings for BLACKSTONE GROUP L.P.



Quarterly Report


The following discussion and analysis should be read in conjunction with The Blackstone Group L.P.'s Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements and the related notes included in this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q.

Our Business

Blackstone is one of the largest independent managers of private capital in the world. We also provide a wide range of financial advisory services, including financial advisory, restructuring and reorganization advisory and fund placement services.

Our business is organized into five business segments:

Private Equity. We are a world leader in private equity investing, having managed six general private equity funds, as well as two sector focused funds and a regionally focused fund, since we established this business in 1987. We refer to these funds collectively as our Blackstone Capital Partners ("BCP") funds. We also manage certain multi-asset class investment funds which we collectively refer to as our Blackstone Tactical Opportunities Accounts ("Tactical Opportunities"). Through our private equity funds we pursue transactions throughout the world, including leveraged buyout acquisitions of seasoned companies, transactions involving growth equity or start-up businesses in established industries, minority investments, corporate partnerships, distressed debt, structured securities and industry consolidations, in all cases in strictly friendly transactions.

Real Estate. We are a world leader in real estate investing since launching our first real estate fund in 1994. We have managed or continue to manage seven global opportunistic real estate funds, three European focused opportunistic real estate funds, a number of real estate debt investment funds and a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Asia real estate platform. Our real estate opportunity funds are diversified geographically and have made significant investments in lodging, major urban office buildings, shopping centers and a variety of real estate operating companies. Our debt investment funds target high yield real estate debt related investment opportunities in the public and private markets, primarily in the United States and Europe. We refer to our real estate opportunistic funds as our Blackstone Real Estate Partners ("BREP") funds and our real estate debt investment funds as our "BREDS" funds.

Hedge Fund Solutions. Blackstone's Hedge Fund Solutions segment is comprised principally of Blackstone Alternative Asset Management ("BAAM"). BAAM was organized in 1990 and has developed into a leading institutional solutions provider utilizing hedge funds across a wide variety of strategies. BAAM is the world's largest discretionary allocator to hedge funds.

Credit. Our Credit segment is comprised principally of GSO Capital Partners LP ("GSO"). GSO manages a variety of credit-oriented funds including senior credit-oriented funds, distressed debt funds, mezzanine funds, general credit-oriented funds and collateralized loan obligation ("CLO") vehicles. GSO is a world leader in credit-oriented products. Prior to September 30, 2012, this segment had been called Credit Businesses.

Financial Advisory. Our Financial Advisory segment serves a diverse and global group of clients with financial advisory services, restructuring and reorganization advisory services and fund placement services for alternative investment funds.

We generate revenue from fees earned pursuant to contractual arrangements with funds, fund investors and fund portfolio companies (including management, transaction and monitoring fees), and from financial advisory services, restructuring and reorganization advisory services and fund placement services for alternative investment funds. We invest in the funds we manage and, in most cases, receive a preferred allocation of income

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(i.e., a carried interest) or an incentive fee from an investment fund in the event that specified cumulative investment returns are achieved. The composition of our revenues will vary based on market conditions and the cyclicality of the different businesses in which we operate. Net investment gains and investment income generated by the Blackstone Funds, principally private equity and real estate funds, are driven by value created by our operating and strategic initiatives as well as overall market conditions. Our funds initially record fund investments at cost and then such investments are subsequently recorded at fair value. Fair values are affected by changes in the fundamentals of the portfolio company, the portfolio company's industry, the overall economy and other market conditions.

Business Environment

In the third quarter, pricing for risk assets broadly rallied, largely driven by increased liquidity from central banks around the world. Equity indices rose in most regions, with the MSCI World Index gaining 6.1% and the S&P 500 Index up 5.8%, bringing year-to-date gains to 10.9% and 14.6%, respectively. Fixed income prices rose as well, and high yield credit spreads contracted 70 basis points in the quarter. Capital markets activity generally increased, with sharply higher equity and debt issuance, although M&A activity remained subdued.

In the U.S., the macroeconomic outlook remains uncertain, and investors remain cautious. While there has been some increased confidence regarding the European sovereign debt situation, investors remain concerned about the upcoming fiscal cliff in the U.S. as well as slowing growth in emerging markets. In addition, unemployment remains persistently high in the U.S. despite record low interest rate levels.

Financing conditions for U.S. leveraged buyouts remain highly attractive, with record levels of new issuance in U.S. high yield and leveraged loans, although the market remains constrained in Europe. New issuance is a mix of funding for new LBOs, dividend recaps and repricings. Some of this new issuance is the repricing of loans issued in May-June 2012, where borrowers are paying to lock in even more attractive terms than what was negotiated just a few months ago.

During the quarter, commercial real estate performance metrics remained healthy. The office sector continues to see modestly improving leasing velocity, led primarily by demand from technology and energy tenants. National vacancy levels have declined 20 basis points to 15.5%. The retail sector continues to benefit from favorable trends in tenant sales, combined with severely constrained new supply (particularly for regional malls). Overall vacancy for the retail sector fell to 12.9% during the third quarter. The industrial sector has experienced more than two years of consecutive quarterly positive net absorption and availability currently stands at 13.1%. Trends within the U.S. hotel market continue to improve with RevPAR ("Revenue per Available Room") growing 5.1% during the third quarter of 2012.

Blackstone's businesses are materially affected by conditions in the financial markets and economic conditions in the U.S., Western Europe, Asia and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere in the world.

Key Financial Measures and Indicators

Our key financial measures and indicators are discussed below.


Revenues primarily consist of management and advisory fees, performance fees, investment income, interest and dividend revenue and other. Please refer to "Part I. Item 1. Business - Incentive Arrangements / Fee Structure" and "Part I. Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Critical Accounting Policies - Revenue Recognition" in our 2011 Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information regarding the manner in which Base Management Fees and Performance Fees are generated.

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Management and Advisory Fees - Management and Advisory Fees are comprised of management fees, including base management fees, transaction and other fees, management fee reductions and offsets, and advisory fees.

The Partnership earns base management fees from limited partners of funds in each of its managed funds, at a fixed percentage of assets under management, net asset value, total assets, committed capital or invested capital, or in some cases, a fixed fee. Base management fees are based on contractual terms specified in the underlying investment advisory agreements.

Transaction and other fees (including monitoring fees) are fees charged directly to funds and portfolio companies. The investment advisory agreements generally require that the investment adviser reduce the amount of management fees payable by the limited partners to the Partnership ("management fee reductions") by an amount equal to a portion of the transaction and other fees directly paid to the Partnership by the portfolio companies. The amount of the reduction varies by fund, the type of fee paid by the portfolio company and the previously incurred expenses of the fund.

Management fee offsets are reductions to management fees payable by our limited partners, which are granted based on the amount they reimburse Blackstone for placement fees.

Advisory fees consist of advisory retainer and transaction-based fee arrangements related to merger, acquisition, restructuring and divestiture activities and fund placement services for alternative investment funds. Advisory retainer fees are recognized when services for the transactions are complete, in accordance with terms set forth in individual agreements. Transaction-based fees are recognized when (a) there is evidence of an arrangement with a client, (b) agreed upon services have been provided, (c) fees are fixed or determinable and (d) collection is reasonably assured. Fund placement fees are recognized as earned upon the acceptance by a fund of capital or capital commitments.

Accrued but unpaid Management and Advisory Fees, net of management fee reductions and management fee offsets, as of the reporting date, are included in Accounts Receivable or Due From Affiliates in the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition.

Performance Fees - Performance Fees earned on the performance of Blackstone's hedge fund structures ("Incentive Fees") are recognized based on fund performance during the period, subject to the achievement of minimum return levels, or high water marks, in accordance with the respective terms set out in each hedge fund's governing agreements. Accrued but unpaid Incentive Fees charged directly to investors in Blackstone's offshore hedge funds as of the reporting date are recorded within Due from Affiliates in the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition. Incentive fees arising on Blackstone's onshore hedge funds are allocated to the general partner. Accrued but unpaid Incentive Fees on onshore funds as of the reporting date are reflected in Investments in the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition. Incentive Fees are realized at the end of a measurement period, typically annually. Once realized, such fees are not subject to clawback.

In certain fund structures, specifically in private equity, real estate and certain credit-oriented funds ("Carry Funds"), performance fees ("Carried Interest") are allocated to the general partner based on cumulative fund performance to date, subject to a preferred return to limited partners. At the end of each reporting period, the Partnership calculates the Carried Interest that would be due to the Partnership for each fund, pursuant to the fund agreements, as if the fair value of the underlying investments were realized as of such date, irrespective of whether such amounts have been realized. As the fair value of underlying investments varies between reporting periods, it is necessary to make adjustments to amounts recorded as Carried Interest to reflect either (a) positive performance resulting in an increase in the Carried Interest allocated to the general partner or (b) negative performance that would cause the amount due to the Partnership to be less than the amount previously recognized as revenue, resulting in a negative adjustment to Carried Interest allocated to the general partner. In each scenario, it is necessary to calculate the Carried Interest on cumulative results compared to the Carried Interest

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recorded to date and make the required positive or negative adjustments. The Partnership ceases to record negative Carried Interest allocations once previously recognized Carried Interest allocations for such fund have been fully reversed. The Partnership is not obligated to pay guaranteed returns or hurdles, and therefore, cannot have negative Carried Interest over the life of a fund. Accrued but unpaid Carried Interest as of the reporting date is reflected in Investments in the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition.

Carried Interest is realized when an underlying investment is profitably disposed of and the fund's cumulative returns are in excess of the preferred return. Incentive fees earned on hedge fund structures are realized at the end of each fund's measurement period.

Carried Interest is subject to clawback to the extent that the Carried Interest actually distributed to date exceeds the amount due to Blackstone based on cumulative results. As such, the accrual for potential repayment of previously received performance fees, which is a component of Due to Affiliates, represents all amounts previously distributed to Blackstone Holdings and non-controlling interest holders that would need to be repaid to the Blackstone Funds if the Blackstone Carry Funds were to be liquidated based on the current fair value of the underlying funds' investments as of the reporting date. Generally, the actual clawback liability does not become realized until the end of a fund's life or one year after a realized loss is incurred, depending on the terms of the fund.

Investment Income (Loss) - Investment Income (Loss) represents the unrealized and realized gains and losses on the Partnership's principal investments, including its investments in Blackstone Funds that are not consolidated, its equity method investments, and other principal investments. Investment Income
(Loss) is realized when the Partnership redeems all or a portion of its investment or when the Partnership receives cash income, such as dividends or distributions, from its non-consolidated funds. Unrealized Investment Income
(Loss) results from changes in the fair value of the underlying investment as well as the reversal of unrealized gain (loss) at the time an investment is realized.

Interest and Dividend Revenue- Interest and Dividend Revenue comprises primarily interest and dividend income earned on principal investments held by Blackstone.

Other Revenue - Other Revenue consists of foreign exchange gains and losses arising on transactions denominated in currencies other than U.S. dollars and other revenues.


Compensation and Benefits - Compensation - Compensation and Benefits consists of
(a) employee compensation, comprising salary and bonus, and benefits paid and payable to employees and senior managing directors and (b) equity-based compensation associated with the grants of equity-based awards to employees and senior managing directors.

Equity-Based Compensation - Compensation cost relating to the issuance of share-based awards to senior managing directors and employees is measured at fair value at the grant date, taking into consideration expected forfeitures, and expensed over the vesting period on a straight line basis. Equity-based awards that do not require future service are expensed immediately. Cash settled equity-based awards are classified as liabilities and are re-measured at the end of each reporting period.

Compensation and Benefits - Performance Fee - Performance Fee Compensation and Benefits consists of Carried Interest and Incentive Fee allocations, and may in future periods also include allocations of investment income from Blackstone's firm investments, to employees and senior managing directors participating in certain profit sharing initiatives. Such compensation expense is subject to both positive and negative adjustments. Unlike Carried Interest and Incentive Fees, compensation expense is based on the performance of individual investments held by a fund rather than on a fund by fund basis.

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Other Operating Expenses - Other operating expenses represent general and administrative expenses including interest expense, occupancy and equipment expenses and other expenses, which consist principally of professional fees, public company costs, travel and related expenses, communications and information services and depreciation and amortization.

Fund Expenses - The expenses of our consolidated Blackstone Funds consist primarily of interest expense, professional fees and other third-party expenses.

Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities

Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities represent the component of Partners' Capital in consolidated Blackstone Funds and side-by-side entities held by third party investors and employees. The percentage interests held by third parties and employees is adjusted for general partner allocations and by subscriptions and redemptions in funds of hedge funds and certain credit-oriented funds which occur during the reporting period. In addition, all non-controlling interests in consolidated Blackstone Funds are attributed a share of income (loss) arising from the respective funds and a share of other comprehensive income, if applicable. Income (Loss) is allocated to non-controlling interests in consolidated entities based on the relative ownership interests of third party investors and employees after considering any contractual arrangements that govern the allocation of income (loss) such as fees allocable to The Blackstone Group L.P. Non-controlling interests related to funds of hedge funds and certain other credit-oriented funds are subject to annual, semi-annual or quarterly redemption by investors in these funds following the expiration of a specified period of time (typically between one and three years), or may be withdrawn subject to a redemption fee in the funds of hedge funds and certain credit-oriented funds during the period when capital may not be withdrawn. As limited partners in these types of funds have been granted redemption rights, amounts relating to third party interests in such consolidated funds are presented as Redeemable Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities within the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition. When redeemable amounts become legally payable to investors, they are classified as a liability and included in Accounts Payable, Accrued Expenses and Other Liabilities in the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition. For all consolidated funds in which redemption rights have not been granted, non-controlling interests are presented within Partners' Capital in the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition as Non-Controlling Interests in Consolidated Entities.

Non-Controlling Interests in Blackstone Holdings

Non-Controlling Interests in Blackstone Holdings represent the component of Partners' Capital in the consolidated Blackstone Holdings Partnerships held by the Founder, other senior managing directors and Blackstone employees.

Certain costs and expenses are borne directly by the Holdings Partnerships. Income (Loss), excluding those costs directly borne by and attributable to the Holdings Partnerships, is attributable to Non-Controlling Interests in Blackstone Holdings. This residual attribution is based on the year to date average percentage of Holdings Partnership units held by the Founder, other senior managing directors and Blackstone employees.

Income Taxes

The Blackstone Holdings partnerships and certain of their subsidiaries operate in the U.S. as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes and generally as corporate entities in non-U.S. jurisdictions. Accordingly, these entities in some cases are subject to New York City unincorporated business taxes or non-U.S. income taxes. In addition, certain of the wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Partnership and the Blackstone Holdings partnerships will be subject to federal, state and local corporate income taxes at the entity level and the related tax provision attributable to the Partnership's share of this income tax is reflected in the Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements.

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Income taxes are accounted for using the asset and liability method of accounting. Under this method, deferred tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the expected future tax consequences of differences between the carrying amounts of assets and liabilities and their respective tax basis, using tax rates in effect for the year in which the differences are expected to reverse. The effect on deferred assets and liabilities of a change in tax rates is recognized in income in the period when the change is enacted. Deferred tax assets are reduced by a valuation allowance when it is more likely than not that some portion or all of the deferred tax assets will not be realized. Current and deferred tax liabilities are recorded within Accounts Payable, Accrued Expenses and Other Liabilities in the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Financial Position.

Blackstone analyzes its tax filing positions in all of the U.S. federal, state, local and foreign tax jurisdictions where it is required to file income tax returns, as well as for all open tax years in these jurisdictions. If, based on this analysis, the Partnership determines that uncertainties in tax positions exist, a reserve is established. Blackstone recognizes accrued interest and penalties related to uncertain tax positions in General, Administrative, and Other expenses within the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Operations.

There remains some uncertainty regarding Blackstone's future taxation levels. Over the past several years, a number of legislative and administrative proposals to change the taxation of Carried Interest have been introduced and, in certain cases, have been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. On May 28, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation, or "May 2010 House bill", that would have, in general, treated income and gains, including gain on sale, attributable to an investment services partnership interest, or "ISPI", as income subject to a new blended tax rate that is higher than the capital gains rate applicable to such income under current law, except to the extent such ISPI would have been considered under the legislation to be a qualified capital interest. Our common units and the interests that we hold in entities that are entitled to receive Carried Interest would likely have been classified as ISPIs for purposes of this legislation. In June 2010, the U.S. Senate considered but did not pass legislation that was generally similar to the legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. More recently, Representative Levin and Senator Harkin (and other representatives) separately introduced similar legislation, or "2012 bills", that would tax Carried Interest at ordinary income tax rates (which would be higher than the proposed blended rate under the May 2010 House bill). It is unclear whether or when the U.S. Congress will pass such legislation or what provisions will be included in any final legislation if enacted.

Each of the May 2010 House bill and the 2012 bills also provided that, for taxable years beginning ten years after the date of enactment, income derived with respect to an ISPI that is not a qualified capital interest and that is subject to the foregoing rules would not meet the qualifying income requirements under the publicly traded partnership rules. Therefore, if similar legislation were to be enacted, following such ten-year period, we would be precluded from qualifying as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes or be required to hold all such ISPIs through corporations.

On September 12, 2011, the Obama administration submitted similar legislation to Congress in the American Jobs Act that would tax income and gain, including gain on sale, attributable to an ISPI at ordinary rates, with an exception for certain qualified capital interests. The proposed legislation would also characterize certain income and gain in respect of ISPIs as non-qualifying income under the tax rules applicable to publicly traded partnerships after a ten-year transition period from the effective date, with an exception for certain qualified capital interests. This proposed legislation follows several prior statements by the Obama administration in support of changing the taxation of Carried Interest. In its published revenue proposal for 2013, the Obama administration proposed that the current law regarding the treatment of Carried Interest be changed to subject such income to ordinary income tax. The Obama administration proposed similar changes in its published revenue proposals for 2010, 2011 and 2012.

States and other jurisdictions have also considered legislation to increase taxes with respect to Carried Interest. For example, in 2010, the New York State Assembly passed a bill, which could have caused a non-resident of New York who holds our common units to be subject to New York state income tax on carried

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interest earned by entities in which we hold an indirect interest, thereby requiring the non-resident to file a New York state income tax return reporting such carried interest income. This legislation would have been retroactive to January 1, 2010. It is unclear whether or when similar legislation will be enacted. Finally, several state and local jurisdictions are evaluating ways to subject partnerships to entity level taxation through the imposition of state or local income, franchise or other forms of taxation or to increase the amount of such taxation.

If we were taxed as a corporation or were forced to hold interests in entities earning income from Carried Interest through taxable subsidiary corporations, our effective tax rate could increase significantly. The federal statutory rate for corporations is currently 35%, and the state and local tax rates, net of the federal benefit, aggregate approximately 10%. If a variation of the above described legislation or any other change in the tax laws, rules, regulations or interpretations preclude us from qualifying for treatment as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes under the publicly traded partnership rules or force us to hold interests in entities earning income from Carried Interest through taxable subsidiary corporations, this could materially increase our tax liability, and could well result in a reduction in the market price of our common units.

It is not possible at this time to meaningfully quantify the potential impact on Blackstone of this potential future legislation or any similar legislation. Multiple versions of legislation in this area have been proposed over the last few years that have included significantly different provisions regarding effective dates and the treatment of invested capital, tiered entities and cross-border operations, among other matters. Depending upon what version of the legislation, if any, were enacted, the potential impact on a public company such as Blackstone in a given year could differ dramatically and could be material. In addition, these legislative proposals would not themselves impose a tax on a . . .

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