Blackstone sees scope for Italian deals despite political strife

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Alternative asset manager Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) is still open to doing deals in Italy despite political turmoil in the euro zone country, President and Chief Operating Officer Jon Gray said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: The ticker and trading information for Blackstone Group is displayed at the post where it is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

“Sure. It’s a function of price,” Gray said at a conference organized by Deutsche Bank, when asked if the company would buy Italian assets right now.

“If you look back after Brexit, in our real estate business, we bought a couple of hundred million of pounds of warehouses. It was literally 10 days after Brexit. We tend to focus more on long-term value than short-term market movements.”

Gray also said Blackstone, with $449.6 billion of assets under management, continues to consider switching over from a partnership to a corporation after peers KKR & Co LP (KKR.N) and Ares Management (ARES.N) said they would convert this year.

“We’re going to watch it, see what markets do, see how these companies trade, think about it ourselves,” Gray said.

“When we think it’s the right time, we’ll make that decision,” Gray added.

In January, Blackstone agreed to buy a majority stake in the Financial and Risk business of Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.N), (TRI.TO), the parent company of Reuters News, in a $20 billion deal. Reuters News will remain part of Thomson Reuters.

(This version of the story removes extraneous word from second paragraph)

Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Richard Chang

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