Blackstone Secrecy? Much Ado About Nothing

A bunch of hooting and hollering this week over The Blackstone Group’s refusal to comply with an SEC request that it publicly disclose the performance of its buyout and hedge funds (kudos to Bloomberg for the get).

In a December 5 letter to the SEC, Blackstone said, in part: “The individual rates of return have no direct impact on our financials and therefore we question the relevance to our investors.” The SEC responded two months later, by saying that it had completed its review and did not have further comments “at this time.”

Not quite sure I understand either Blackstone’s position (or the related outcry). After all, almost all of this information is publicly available elsewhere. Remember, Blackstone takes tons of money from public pension funds in disclosure-friendly states like California, Oregon and Washington.

For example, here are the IRRs for Blackstone’s past four funds through Q3 2008, according to CalPERS:

  • Blackstone Capital Partners II (1994): 37.4%
  • Blackstone Capital Partners III (1997) 13.8%
  • Blackstone Capital Partners IV (2003): 44%
  • Blackstone Capital Partners V (2006) -6.9%

Sure that’s a quarter out of date, but CalPERS will update its numbers shortly (it needs all its funds to come in, and then do its own math). In the meantime, Megan has some more.

Again, I think it’s stupid that Blackstone is withholding this stuff. But it’s just as stupid to get all upset over it, considering that it’s not too hard to find.