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Quick Take: Blackstone Is Ready, But Jesse Isn't Happy

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June 19, 2007 – Comments (0)

Original here.

According to The Wall Street Journal's online Deal Journal, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson is raising a little hell over the Blackstone (NYSE: BX) IPO set to hit the counter on Thursday. While many have raised an eyebrow over issues like the firm's taxes and the lavish compensation, Jackson has highlighted the underwriting lineup.

Jackson's contention is that a few minority-owned banks taking part in the deal were not given a high enough billing -- in fact, they aren't even listed on the cover of the prospectus. The Journal cited three specific firms, Blaylock & Co., Loop Capital, and Williams Capital, as minority-owned firms that Jackson felt were slighted because of race.

I'm not planning to tackle politics here, but from what I've seen, when it comes to colors, Wall Street sees three: red, black, and green. Jackson is also not one to typically see the glass as half-full, so it seems to me a bit of a coup that those three firms will now be able to pitch to new clients that they worked on the Blackstone IPO. After all, the firms headlining the deal are the biggest and the best in the industry, including Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Citibank (NYSE: C), Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), Lazard (NYSE: LAZ), UBS (NYSE: UBS), and ABN Amro (NYSE: ABN).

Looking specifically at Blaylock: According to its website, the company was founded in 1993 and employs 50 professionals. By comparison, the firms on the cover of the prospectus are multibillion-dollar public companies that employ tens of thousands, and many of them date back to the early 1900s, if not earlier. Far from being a racial issue, this is a simple question of what size firms will end up on the cover of a $4.8 billion IPO -- I also don't see smaller firms such as Friedman Billings Ramsey or Keefe, Bruyette & Woods on the cover.

The investment banking business has a lot to do with salesmanship, track record, and relationships. The Blackstone deal, cover or not, should give these three firms a leg up in the future in all three areas, and will help them continue to grow and get involved with similar high-profile transactions.

Come on, Jesse -- cheer up!

(I don't own any of these stocks)

-Kopp

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