Monday, March 26, 2007

Why we're cynical?

Start a foundation, avoid being seen as a greedy pig.

This is the point of Saturday's Dealbook column, which was headlined "How to Show That You're no Gordon Gekko" and opened with this paragraph:
"...the Blackstone Group’s 221-page-thick prospectus [contains] an unusual paragraph: The firm says it plans to start a charitable foundation.

The prospectus says that the partners will contribute as much as $150 million of their equity to the foundation, which “is being established to support charitable organizations in the communities in which we operate and worthy charitable organizations with which our employees are personally involved...

Skeptics, of course, will say that the new foundation is simply about “optics” — or worse, a clever way for its partners to offset their tax gains from the I.P.O.

But it’s hard to criticize people for giving away money. And, frankly, the industry needs all the image-polishing help it can get.”
The irony is that the last paragraph is only referring to the private equity industry and not also the philanthropy industry.

And just to put that $150 mm in perspective CNBC estimates that the Blackstone Group's market value as a whole "...easily exceeds $20 billion, CNBC said. The firm's management company has between six and 12 owners, the Journal said. Chief Executive Steve Schwarzman's stake would be valued at least at $8 billion, CNBC said."

Is it really possible to see the intended foundation as anything but an "optical" rounding error?

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