UPDATE 1-Blackstone setting up presence in Australia

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MELBOURNE, May 19 (BestGrowthStock) – Private equity firm Blackstone
Group LP (BX.N: ) said on Wednesday it was setting up a presence
in Australia to target attractive opportunities, joining other
LBO firms in an island of solid economic prospects.

“We are establishing a presence here to integrate the firm
into the local business community, seeking opportunities to
invest and to raise capital,” Philip Levinson, managing
director of Blackstone Group Australia, told a conference call.

Other large private equity firms including Carlyle Group
(CYL.UL: ) are already active in Australia’s $20 billion private
equity sector.

Last week Carlyle and TPG [TPG.UL] were the two bidders
that made a $1.6 billion offer for Australian hospital operator
Healthscope (HSP.AX: ), a source told Reuters, marking the
largest private equity deal in Australia since 2007.

Market sources said Blackstone had been poised to open up
an office in Sydney late last year, but delayed its plans
awaiting developments on the Australian tax office’s taxing of
private equity deals.

Levinson was not available to give more details on the
firm’s plans in Australia.

Byron Wien, vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Partners,
told the same media call he does not expect a mass exodus of
investors from Australia’s mining sector if a proposed 40
percent tax on the sector is introduced.

But Wien, formerly the famously bearish chief investment
strategist at Morgan Stanley, and most recently at hedge fund
Pequot Capital Management, warned that targets of the tax would
seek other alternatives.

“The government has to be very careful about this, because
studies show that when you raise taxes too much you don’t
really get any more revenue,” Wien said.


(Reporting by Victoria Thieberger; editing by Ed Davies)

UPDATE 1-Blackstone setting up presence in Australia