Blackstone looks to listing

The Blackstone Group is reportedly close to filing for an initial public offering of the firm just weeks after Steven Schwarzman dismissed the public markets as a source of capital for buyout fundraising.

The Blackstone Group is in advanced preparations for an initial public offering of the firm that could be filed in the next two weeks, according to CNBC, the US broadcaster.

Goldman Sachs and Blackstone lawyers are writing a prospectus, while Blackstone is finding out whether investors in its funds would object to an IPO.

Citing sources familiar with the firm’s plans CNBC said: “While a final decision on whether to go public has technically not been made and rests squarely with the firm’s chairman and chief executive Steven Schwarzman, a decision has been all but made and the filing will soon follow.”

Blackstone declined to comment.

Schwarzman himself would profit significantly from decision to go public. According to CNBC, he owns about 40 percent of the firm, which banking sources value in excess of $20 billion.

The success of Fortress Investment Group’s public offering caught the attention of Blackstone and other big private equity firms. Last month Fortress opened trading at $35 after being priced at $18.50 a share.

Banking and legal sources told CNBC that Apollo, KKR and Carlyle Group are all exploring public offerings that could take place this year or next.

Just three weeks ago, however, Schwarzman argued that public markets were not a viable source of capital for buyout firms, suggesting that Kohlberg Kravis Roberts’s $5 billion listed vehicle soaked up all the available liquidity.

Schwarzman suggested the public markets were “over-rated” as a fundraising tool, and said it was questionable “that $5 billion looms large”, according to Reuters. He was speaking on a panel at the Super Return conference in Frankfurt.

Schwarzman suggested KKR had deliberately spoiled the chances of anyone else raising money using this method. He said: “KKR destroyed the market for anyone else… which I think was their objective.”