Blackstone’s Gray Becomes Billionaire Amid Property WagerGillian Wee
Jonathan Gray, the 43-year-old who runs Blackstone Group LP’s real estate business, is the latest billionaire to emerge from the world’s largest manager of private equity and property.
Gray, who joined New York-based Blackstone in 1992 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, owns 40.6 million shares of the alternative-asset manager, a stake valued at $913 million as of yesterday’s close. He also has collected more than $120 million in bonuses, carried interest and dividends in the past two years, according to regulatory filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Blackstone has surged 40 percent this year as the private-equity firm sold assets and returned money to private and public shareholders. The company has diversified beyond leveraged buyouts, and its real estate division, run by Gray, is now its largest, with $64 billion in assets. Gray is also investing a $13.3 billion real estate fund, which is the largest opportunistic property fund ever raised.
“Jon has been an integral part of the Blackstone fabric for the past twenty years,” Stephen Schwarzman, Blackstone’s billionaire chairman, said last year when Gray was appointed to the company’s board of directors. “He heads one of our largest and most successful businesses.”
Gray is the fourth billionaire to be minted at Blackstone. The company was started in 1985 by Schwarzman and Peter G. Peterson, who left the company in 2008 to pursue philanthropic causes. Schwarzman has a net worth of $8.1 billion and is the world’s 151st richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Tony James, the company’s president, has a stake valued at more than $850 million. He’s sold stock valued at almost $200 million since Blackstone’s 2007 initial public offering.
“Jon lives a very private life,” said Peter Rose, Blackstone’s spokesman, who said Gray declined to comment for the story.
Gray has orchestrated the privatization of public real estate companies valued at more than $100 billion, including Extended Stay America, Carr America, Equity Office Properties and Hilton Hotels. Blackstone, which also has investments in private equity, credit and hedge funds, managed $229.6 billion in assets as of the end of the second quarter.
Blackstone, which is seeking to attract more individual investors, also raised almost $1 billion from Fidelity Investments for its mutual fund that will invest in hedge funds, Fidelity said this month.
Blackstone has an exclusive agreement with Fidelity for an undisclosed period covering individual investors, and can offer the fund of funds to its institutional clients, according to a person briefed on the deal, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.
The company also has agreed to buy 80 apartment properties for about $2.7 billion in one of its largest forays into the U.S. multifamily market, a person with knowledge of the deal said this month. The firm is acquiring the properties from General Electric Co.’s GE Capital unit, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the transaction isn’t public.
Gray graduated magna cum laude from Penn with bachelor’s degrees in economics and English. He serves on the boards of the Pension Real Estate Association and Trinity School, and has given $10 million to the Harlem Village Academies, a New York-based learning institution he’s chairman of.
$25 Million Gift
With his wife, Mindy, Gray established the Basser Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine with a $25 million gift. The center focuses on the prevention and treatment of certain genetically caused breast and ovarian cancers.
The Bloomberg Billionaires Index takes measure of the world’s wealthiest people based on market and economic changes and Bloomberg News reporting. Each net worth figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. in New York and listed in U.S. dollars at current exchange rates.