BLACKSTONE SEES GREEN FROM SUBPRIME LOAN$
By KAJA WHITEHOUSE
July 25, 2008
Homeowners having trouble making their mortgage payments may soon find themselves working out a payment plan with buyout kingpin Steve Schwarzman.
Schwarzman's private equity firm, The Blackstone Group, recently announced it is prepping to make bets in the toxic subprime market.
And now, The Post has learned, it has set aside $1.25B to do this through a partnership with Florida firm Bayview Financial.
The plan is to use Bayview's mortgage servicing arm to locate troubled loans on the cheap, including those where payments have stopped.
Once Bayview locates a loan, it will renegotiate the terms as needed, such as to get laggard payments back on track.
Blackstone can then turn around and resell or "securitize" the loans for a profit. Blackstone also has the option to take hold of properties when mortgages default.
Coral Gables-based Bayview has already put 40 percent of Blackstone's capital to work, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Whole residential mortgage loans, including toxic subprime mortgages, are the latest in a series of assets battered by the credit crunch to be eyed by hedge funds and other vulture investors.
Only a few deep-pocketed investors will likely make a go of it, however, as investing in mortgages requires access to both capital- and loan-servicing companies, which select and manage the loans.
Also drooling over the downtrodden residential-mortgage market are hedge funds Fortress and Och-Ziff, as well as traditional asset manager BlackRock.
Fortress owns a mortgage servicer through its private equity arm, while hedge fund Och-Ziff bought a stake in one last January. Other firms, like Blackstone, are forming joint-ventures with outside servicing companies.
Blackstone's foray into mortgages is being conducted through its $32 billion alternative asset management unit, run by Blackstone Chairman Tom Hill.