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Times are changing for private equity

Glasses on index sheet

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Renita Jablonski: If any business was a sure thing before the credit crunch, it was private equity. But times have changed. Private-equity firm Blackstone saw its profits fall 90 percent at the end of last year.

Blackstone releases first-quarter numbers today. Analysts expect the report will show the private-equity business is changing, and there may not be much private equity in it anymore. Jill Barshay reports.


Jill Barshay: Until a year ago, private-equity firms like Blackstone had a simple way of making money: Buy up companies with borrowed funds, and then sell them at a later date for a profit.

Jackson Turner is an analyst at Argus Research in New York. He says those kinds of deals are tough to do now that the debt markets have dried up.

Jackson Turner: Because of the credit market dislocations, the emphasis has had to move from private equity to asset management.

Turner says Blackstone is behaving more like a hedge fund these days -- it's buying everything from distressed real estate to junk loans.

Turner: The Blackstones and the Apollos of the world can make money off of dislocation in the market just like they can off of deals.

The private-equity business isn't completely dead. Turner says Blackstone's still buying companies in places like Brazil, where deal markets are thriving.

In New York, I'm Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

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