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Blackstone hires ‘Wall Street sage’ to bolster macro research activities

The New York- based private equity and real estate giant has brought in former Pequot Capital chief investment strategist Byron Wien, as it looks to macroeconomic analysis to work out how to spend its $29 billion equity pile.

Blackstone has hired former Pequot Capital chief investment strategist Byron Wien as it looks to macroeconomics to determine its best investment practices.

Wien, 76, has been hired by the New York-based firm as a senior advisor to analyse economic, social, and political trends as it seeks to deploy $29 billion in dry powder, more than $12 billion of which has been allocated to real estate.

In an interview with Reuters, which dubbed him a “Wall Street sage”, Wien, who will report directly to chief executive officer Steve Schwarzman and chief operating officer Tony James, said: “They’ve got a tremendous pool of assets to deploy and the opportunities couldn’t be greater.”

“I’m going to be trying to determine how social, political and economic factors influence the financial markets and I expect that my commentary will be used across all the areas of the firm — asset management, real estate, private equity and also the advisory business,” Wien said.

He told Reuters that he did not think real estate prices had bottomed out yet. This is in keeping with the firm’s insistence that it is unlikely to invest in direct real estate, on a general basis, until the end of 2010 at the earliest.

But Wien, who has also previously held the role of US Investment Strategist for Morgan Stanley, did see opportunities arising from distressed situations across the asset classes and that banks will start lending again once they have purged themselves of toxic assets.

Wien’s arrival comes after a period of in-depth research into the main macroeconomic trends affecting global real estate by Blackstone's real estate group.

Blackstone spoke to PERE over summer about its research initiative for a feature to be published next month. Global co-head of real estate Chad Pike said the research initiative was: “Was aimed primarily at us figuring out where and when the investment opportunities are going to arise and therefore, what we should focus on,” he said.

See the PERE September issue to read more about Blackstone’s research initiative. Click here.