Tuesday 20 February 2018

Blackstone's Eastern promise

Stephen Schwarzman, the billionaire chairman of private equity investor Blackstone Group, is setting up a $300m (€229m) scholarship for foreign students to attend China's Tsinghua University, including $100m of his own personal wealth.

Harvard Business School grad Schwarzman (pictured) is no stranger to the world's finest universities.

He has based the programme on the world-famous Rhodes Scholarship, which allows US students to attend Oxford university in the UK.

While clearly an admirable philanthropic decision, the programme should also be good for business.

Blackstone opened an office in Hong Kong in 2006 and has since expanded to Beijing and Shanghai, seeking to take advantage of the country's rapid growth. It was the first global private-equity firm to set up a domestic buyout fund in China, the second biggest trading partner to the US after Canada.

Other backers of the programme have major business interests in China too – Boeing expects to increase its deliveries there by 60pc this year.

And there is no doubt that US businessman Schwarzman is shrewd – late last year Blackstone bought the Burlington Hotel for e67m, less than a quarter paid by property developer Bernard McNamara at the height of the property bubble in 2007.

Four of the 200 scholarship places eash year will be open to students from Ireland and the UK.

Irish Independent

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