Side Letter: Schwarzman’s £150m gift, Goldman’s DJing CEO, raising too soon

What do you do when you're worth $12.4 billion and worried about the effect of AI? Build a research institute in your name. Here’s today's brief, for our valued subscribers only.

Just happened

Schwarzman’s gift

Blackstone boss Stephen Schwarzman has donated £150 million ($188 million; €168 million) to Oxford University in the largest single donation to the university since the Renaissance. Oxford will use the money to build a hub dedicated to humanities, as well as research into ethics in artificial intelligence. Schwarzman is reportedly not receiving an honorary degree at Oxford, so it looks like naming rights to the building – The Stephen A Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities – will have to suffice.

Curb your fundraising enthusiasm

Yesterday we asked if removing clauses in limited partnership agreements that prevent fundraising before a deployment threshold has been met is becoming more common. It appears so – big funds of funds managers who can’t deploy capital fast enough are “pestering” large GPs to return to market early, one source tells us. Best known example: a certain Europe-headquartered firm began raising a successor when its existing fund was around one-third deployed, the source says. LPs, how do you feel about this? Let us know.

Size does matter

Private equity’s rampant appetite for mega-funds is hindering their ability to generate returns, according to the WSJ (paywall). Private equity funds of $10 billion or more generated 14.4 percent five-year annualised net returns as of September, marginally outperforming the S&P 500’s 14.1 percent, according to Cambridge Associates. Bigger funds have fewer suitable targets and can struggle to implement operational improvements. Takeaway: performance isn’t all about size.


Goldman Sachs’s tracks. Private equity professionals taking a break from the dizzying world of buyouts and fundraising to attend the Tomorrowland electronic dance festival in Belgium next month take note: catch Goldman Sachs chief exec David Solomon while you’re there. Not in the corporate tent, mind, but on stage. DJ D-Sol, as he is known, will be spinning tunes to revellers on the Generation Smash stage. Check out his latest track ‘Feel alive’ here.

Swiss family (offices). Switzerland-listed Bellevue wants to capitalise on family offices’ increasing demand for PE through its acquisition of boutique private equity firm adbodmer. Bellevue – which has three biotech funds and whose investors are mainly high-net-worth individuals and family offices – will expand into mid-market investments in Germany, Switzerland and Austria and make more direct investments.

Inside tip

It’s PEI’s Investor Relations, Marketing & Communications Forum in New York today and tomorrow. Reporter Preeti Singh will be there so drop her a line if you fancy a chat.

Dig deeper

Meet Virginia. Virginia Retirement System has approved $475 million in private equity commitments, including $325 million to TA XIII and $150 million to Advent International GPE IX. Here’s a breakdown of the $80.4 billion US public pension’s investment portfolio. For more information on VRS as well as more than 6,700 other institutions, check out the PEI database.

He said it

“It took me a moment to absorb what he was saying… shifting from the Wall Street dealmaking, deal-pursuing environment to that of being a fiduciary and an investment steward for a perpetual organisation.”

In a video interview with Institutional Investor, Jason Klein, chief investment officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, talks about his interview to become CIO at the Museum of Modern Art, at which a Wall Street veteran gave him the advice: “Don’t lose money”

We would love your feedback to help us make this newsletter more useful; click here to give us your opinion.

Today’s letter was prepared by Adam LeIsobel MarkhamAlex Lynn and Preeti Singh.

Subscribe now and get Side Letter delivered to your inbox each day

To find out how, email, or call our team:

London: +44 207 566 5432
New York: +1 646 545 6296
Hong Kong: +852 2153 3140