Blackstone’s first-quarter profit rises but coronavirus weighs

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FILE PHOTO: The ticker and trading information for Blackstone Group is displayed at the post where it is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) – Blackstone Group Inc (BX.N), the world’s largest manager of alternative assets such as private equity and real estate, reported a 4% rise in its first-quarter distributable earnings driven by a surge in management fees on strong fundraising, even as its funds took a hit in the coronavirus-induced downturn.

Distributable earnings (DE) rose to $557.1 million from $538 million a year earlier. This translated into DE per share of 46 cents, lower than the 50 cents that analysts estimated on average, according to data compiled by Refinitiv.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, U.S. stock markets have steeply declined as the stay-at-home measures imposed to contain the pandemic shut down large swathes of the economy.

Blackstone said the value of its private equity portfolio fell by 21.6% in the first quarter, compared with a 20% drop in the benchmark S&P 500 stock over the same period. Opportunistic and core real estate funds fell by 8.8% and 3.9% respectively during the quarter.

Blackstone’s total assets under management fell to $538 billion in the quarter, from $571.1 billion in the prior quarter. It declared a quarterly dividend of 39 cents per share.

Reporting by Chibuike Oguh in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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