Strategic Partners set to return to market

The Blackstone unit, run by global head Verdun Perry, is expected to hold its first close in H2 for Strategic Partners Fund IX.

Blackstone‘s secondaries investment unit is returning to market with a flagship fund after deploying its latest vehicle within two years.

Strategic Partners Fund IX will launch “shortly” and is expected to hold a first close in the second half of this year, chief operating officer Jon Gray said on the firm’s first-quarter earnings call on Thursday. Gray said he expects the fund to be larger than Fund VIII, which closed in 2019 on $11.1 billion.

Gray also confirmed that the Strategic Partners unit, which is run by global head Verdun Perry, was in market with a fund dedicated to GP-led deals, which Secondaries Investor reported on in February.

“The secondaries funds, which report on a two-quarter lag, reported double-digit appreciation in the first quarter, up 10.6 percent, and we expect strong performance to continue over the coming quarters given the recent direction of markets,” said chief financial officer Michael Chae on the call.

Strategic Partners VIII has delivered a net internal rate of return of 32 percent and a multiple of invested capital of 1.4x, according to a presentation accompanying the results for 31 March.

Limited partners in the fund include the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which committed $250 million, Cathay Life Insurance and Fubon Life Insurance, which each committed $50 million, according to Secondaries Investor data.

Blackstone had a strong quarter, with total assets under management up 21 percent, or $111 billion, year-on-year. Fee-related earnings rose 58 percent to $741 million and management fees increased 25 percent to a record level of $1.2 billion, the firm said on the call.

“The virtuous cycle of strong investment performance leading to further inflows, increasingly from perpetual strategies, continues to drive our firm,” Gray said.