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China to Take Stake in Blackstone
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China is taking a close interest in the IPO about to be launched in the United States by the Blackstone Group, the world's second largest private equity fund -- because a Chinese national investment company is poised to take a stake.


The IPO could turn out to be the largest in the United States in the last five years.


Company sources said Wednesday that the preliminary price range for the IPO had been set between US$29 and 31 per share.


With 20 million common units available to cover over-allotment, the IPO will likely involve 238 million shares and raise as much as US$7.75 billion.


According to the prospectus the company has filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, 105 million shares will be sold at a 4.5 percent discount to China's state foreign exchange investment company SIC, which is being formed to manage a part of China's huge forex reserves.


By the end of March, China's foreign exchange reserves had jumped 37 percent on a year earlier to exceed US$1.2 trillion, mainly invested in low-yielding dollar bonds.


The SIC will have a 9.7 percent stake in Blackstone. Public shareholdings will account for 12.3 percent to 14.1 percent, and veteran shareholders, including Blackstone Group executives, 76.2 percent to 78 percent.


The sources said the IPO price will be finalized in the last week of June. The company will list on the New York Stock Exchange at the end of June.


Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Global Markets will act as the leading underwriters of the IPO. Other underwriters include Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Deutsche Bank Securities and Goldman Sachs.


As of May 1, Blackstone Group managed 88.4 billion dollars worth of assets, up from 14.1 billion dollars worth at the end of 2001.


(Xinhua News Agency June 14, 2007)


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