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Private Equity Firm Blackstone Is Channeling Warren Buffett

The oracle of Omaha is famed for his investing strategy: Buy and hold for a long, long, time.

Now private equity giant Blackstone (BX) is reportedly close to raising $5 billion, the largest for a fund of this type, dedicated to a buyout pool mimicking Warren Buffet’s investing style, according to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter.

The fund, called the Blackstone Core Equity Partners, will seek to invest in safer, larger companies for more than twice than the three-to-five-year holding period private equity firms usually have. Blackstone is targeting an annualized net return of 15%, the people said. That’s lower than Blackstone’s $18 billion flagship buyout fund.

Despite the lower returns however, investors may still be attracted to the fund due to its low fees. Investors will pay 10% of deal profits—half of what they would be paying in Blackstone’s main fund.

“It was offered very selectively to sophisticated investors,” president and COO Tony James told analysts during the firm’s first quarter earnings in April. At the time, Blackstone noted that funds could exceed the $5 billion mark.

“We initially set our target of $5 billion. We’ll be over that,” James said.

 

The new fund also represents a way for Blackstone to tackle an ongoing source of frustration for some private equity firms. BCEP would allow Blackstone to hold and exit an investment at will—meaning they would not be forced to sell a promising company early.

Buffett, on his part, has disdained private equity’s method of investing, which often adds value to a company by piling on debt, and slashing expenses before turning it back on the market.

“You can sell it to Berkshire, and we’ll put it in the Metropolitan Museum. It’ll have a wing all by itself, it’ll be there forever,” he said in 2013, according to the Financial Times. “Or you can sell it to some porn shop operator, and he’ll take the painting and he’ll make the boobs a little bigger and he’ll stick it up in the window, and some other guy will come along in a raincoat, and he’ll buy it.”

Other private equity firms have also sought to lengthen their holding periods. This year, Carlyle Group raised $3.3 billion for a new fund, while CVC Capital Partners just completed raising $4.4 billion for a long-term holding fund.