In 1994, BlackRock became an independent firm and Blackstone sold its shares in the company.
Fink and Schwarzman now work on opposite sides of Park Avenue.
Fink’s company dwarfs Blackstone, but when it comes to property, Blackstone is the giant.
Its $320bn real estate portfolio is more than six times larger than that of BlackRock.
“For Blackstone, real estate is the goose that lays the golden egg,” Brett Christophers, a professor of geography and author of a forthcoming book about the asset management industry, told me.
In the 2000s, Blackstone’s real estate division was known for buying up office spaces and hotels.
Now, it seems to prefer life-science laboratories and warehouses rented out to last-mile delivery firms.
But it is Blackstone’s interest in another type of real estate that has attracted the most scrutiny.
In recent years, it has become known for creating a profitable asset class from residential properties – in other words, buying up homes.
Unlike warehouses or office blocks, the principal revenue source in rental homes are the people who live in them.
Although Blackstone insists that its top priority is providing a good service, the finance industry’s expectation of increasing returns can seem at odds with the interests of tenants.
In the years before the pandemic, the company presented its “conviction themes” – the areas where it plans to invest – to its largest shareholders at an annual investor meeting.
(This event used to be held at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan, which Blackstone used to own.)
“It was like drinking from a firehose in the world of real estate,” a former Blackstone executive told me of one meeting at the Waldorf.
“You could be talking about shopping centres in Shanghai one minute, offices in Seattle the next minute. In that room, you’d probably be more informed about what was happening in the world of real estate than in any other room on the planet.”