Blackstone formally launches in Singapore

Blackstone founder Stephen Schwarzman was in Singapore this week to open the firm's 24th office globally, which will support and grow its activities in Southeast Asia.

The Blackstone Group has officially opened its office in Singapore as it strengthens its capabilities in the Southeast Asian region, according to a blog post on the firm’s website. 

The new office will serve as a regional hub for its Southeast Asia activities. 

“With the help of this new regional hub, we are in an exceptional position to continue to grow, perform, invest, and deliver on our commitments for the future,” Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive, chairman and co-founder of Blackstone, said at an event in Singapore this week. 

Although the office was established in late 2012, the firm launched its formal presence this week. As of September, the office held 30 staff across its private equity, real estate and capital-raising businesses, sister-publication PERE reported earlier. 

In January this year, the firm hired the former executive chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers Singapore as chairman of Blackstone Singapore. 

With the help of this new regional hub, we are in an exceptional position to continue to grow, perform, invest, and deliver on our commitments for the future.

Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder, The Blackstone Group

Blackstone’s move comes at a time when a number of other global firms are setting up shop in Southeast Asia. KKR formally opened its Singapore office in October 2012, while European mid-market firm The Riverside Company opened there in March 2013.

The Carlyle Group has also bolstered their teams in the Southeast Asian region, the firm hiring Rajiv Louis to head Indonesian investments in May this year. 

However Blackstone, unlike these firms, invests in the region from its global fund, the latest being a $16.27 billion vehicle raised in 2011, according to PEI’s Research & Analytics division. The fund is the firm’s eleventh global vehicle. 

In comparison, KKR just raised its second Asia-dedicated vehicle – the largest-ever for the region, closing on $6 billion, while CVC Capital Partners is currently plotting a $3 billion Asia fund – its fourth dedicated to the region. 

The firms have also been active in Southeast Asia. 

In March, CVC Asia Pacific sold 40 percent of Indonesia-based Matahari Department Stores in a deal worth $1.3 billion. CVC expected to gain a 7x-8x return on its investment, PEI reported earlier.

Blackstone moving into Southeast Asia

More recently, in October, KKR acquired a significant minority stake in Malaysia-based business Weststar Aviation Services in a $200 million deal, according to an earlier statement. 

However, The Blackstone Group is yet to close a private equity deal in Southeast Asia, despite investing significant resources in the region, one industry source told PEI

“They haven’t on the private equity side closed anything [in Southeast Asia]. On the real estate side they are much more active,” he said. “It’s not about the fund itself, it is more about needing to find a deal that attracts them. I don’t think not having an Asia fund is a disadvantage because their global fund has a remit to invest across Asia.”

Blackstone was unavailable for comment at press time.