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The Numbers Behind Blackstone’s Massive London Expansion

Berkeley Square, where Blackstone has its existing HQ and is taking more space.

U.S. private equity giant Blackstone has almost doubled its London headcount since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with real estate a huge part of its expansion.

Far from being a problem for investors with huge real estate portfolios like Blackstone, the pandemic and the subsequent economic recovery have allowed them to make hay. Here are the numbers that sum up the what, how and why of the firm’s London expansion. 

200: Blackstone has hired more than 200 people in London since March 2020, Bloomberg reported, raising its headcount in the city to 500. It is also expanding in Paris, Frankfurt and elsewhere in Europe. 

$2M vs $232K: A significant part of the hiring strategy has been to poach deal-makers from big investment banks in London. Examples in the real estate division include Tara Morrison and Catherine Chiurco, hired from JPMorgan; Caroline Hill, hired from Lloyds Banking Group; and Christopher Weber, hired from Goldman Sachs. The reason it can tap that well so often? Average pay at big private equity firms is $2M a year, Bloomberg said, compared to $232K at the five biggest investment banks.

40%: Why can Blackstone afford to pay the big salaries? Because its European funds are performing very well. Blackstone’s fourth-quarter results show that the three opportunity funds it is currently managing in Europe have an internal rate of return on assets sold of 20% for its fourth European fund, 40% for its fifth and 58% on its sixth, although the latter fund has only sold a small portion of what it has bought. The three funds have overall IRRs of 14%, 14% and 33%, respectively. 

$863M: That success is leading to growing performance fees in European real estate. Fee revenue from the three opportunity funds was $863M in the fourth quarter of 2021, Blackstone said in fourth-quarter results, up from $742M the previous quarter. The firm is looking to increase its investments in life sciences, logistics and offices, Bloomberg reported.

35K SF: Blackstone’s expansion is seeing it take 35K SF of extra space at Berkeley Square House in the West End, directly opposite its current HQ at 40 Berkeley Square.