DECONSTRUCTED: Days of laughter and dancing

PERE Magazine December 2008/January 2009 issue

In times of distress, it's always good to crack a smile. For Wes Edens, the chief executive officer of publicly listed private equity and real estate firm Fortress Investment Group, it's an absolute necessity.

The alternative asset manager has taken a hefty beating from the stock markets of late, seeing its share price drop from an all-time high of $34 shortly after its February 2007 IPO to just $2.30 at the time of press.


However, speaking before a meeting of Fortress investors, and reported in the Wall Street Journal, it was Edens who was able to see the joke.

In fact, in one quip to shareholders, Edens said if Fortress' stock price went down much further he would be willing to buy them all back. Indeed, if they fell to $1, he carried on, he might consider launching a hostile takeover of his own firm. With roughly 35.5 million shares outstanding, that deal would cost Edens $35.5 million – not a bad price for a firm with $34.3 billion in fee-paying assets under management.

Of course, Edens is not alone. The volatile stock markets have also seen The Blackstone Group's shares plunge from their post IPO-high of $38 to $5.15 at press time.


So how does co-founder and chief executive officer Stephen Schwarzman cope with such news? According to the New York magazine, he takes to the dance floor of the New York Public Library dancing to singer Rihanna's “Disturbia”.

The occasion was reportedly during the library's Young Lions disco party.

PERE, however, believes Schwarzman was finding solace in Rihanna's prophetic lyrics. “No more gas in the rear; can't even get it started. Nothing heard, nothing said; can't even speak about it. Out my life, out my head; don't want to think about it. Feels like I'm going insane.”