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Last Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007, 21:58 GMT 22:58 UK
Blackstone surges on Wall Street
Blackstone chief executive Steve Schwarzman
Blackstone boss Steve Schwarzman is worth billions of dollars
Shares in US private equity giant Blackstone have soared during their first day of trading in New York.

The stock climbed as much as 45% in early deals, though it later gave back some of the gains to finish the day up 13% to $35.06.

Blackstone raised $4.13bn (2.1bn) by selling a 13.2% stake on Thursday.

Demand was strong as investors looked to buy into a market leader, and the shares were priced at $31, valuing the company at about $33.5bn.

The strong demand reflected the number of professional investors wanting to grab a piece of the successful private equity group, observers said.

Biggest US IPO

Private equity groups have come in for criticism in several countries in recent weeks, amid charges that their business practices are opaque and the tax rates they pay are too low.

Some US politicians, for instance, had wanted Blackstone's flotation to be delayed, calling for the tax rate on private equity earnings to be raised.

Still, Blackstone's share offering is the biggest US initial public offering in five years, and could prove to have opened the door for other groups such as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and the Carlyle Group to follow suit.

The investment firm's chief executive and co-founder, Stephen Schwarzman has seen his stake in the company soar $1.6bn to $9.4bn.

In the UK, Blackstone owns holiday company Center Parcs, the firm that runs the London Dungeon, and most recently was one of the firms stalking Sainsbury's.

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