Houston Firefighters' to commit $20m to Blackstone

Blackstone's Fund VI had collected $8bn as of February.

Houston Firefighters' Retirement Fund is finalising a $20 million commitment to Blackstone's sixth global buyout fund, which is targeting between $15 billion and $20 billion and has collected at least $8 billion.

The pension is still negotiating aspects of the limited partner agreement, according to Chris Gonzales, chief investment officer with the Houston Firefighters' pension.

The Blackstone commitment would be Houston Firefighters' first since disclosing it was pulling back from private equity investing in March because of a liquidity crunch. In March, the pension committed $10 million to Lexington Partners' seventh secondaries fund, which is targeting $5 billion.

Houston Firefighters' had assets valued at about $3 billion as of 30 June, 2008. The fund has an actual allocation to private equity of about 11.1 percent, with a target range between 11 and 18 percent.

Blackstone is expected to begin investing from Fund VI last this year or in early 2010, Hamilton “Tony” James, the firm's president, said during an earnings call in February. Last year, Blackstone lowered Fund VI's target from $20 billion to a range of between $15 billion and $20 billion.

Blackstone's Fund V closed on $21.7 billion in 2006. James said during a conference call in August the firm has about $14 billion in dry powder across various funds.

Blackstone is nearing a deal to buy Anheuser-Busch InBev NV's theme parks in a deal that could total as much as $3 billion, according to various media reports. The 10 amusement parts include SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Adventure Island.