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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 March 2007, 21:02 GMT
US fund giant in $4bn share float
Sainsbury's store
Blackstone is one of the suitors stalking Sainsbury's
Blackstone Group, one of the world's largest private equity and hedge fund firms, is to raise up to $4bn (2bn) by selling some shares to investors.

Blackstone is one of a group of finance firms currently considering a bid for UK supermarket chain Sainsbury's.

Blackstone confirmed the share move to US regulators, but did not disclose how many shares it would offer or at what price it would be selling them.

Private equity firms are pulling off ever-larger corporate takeovers.

'Market enthusiasm'

Blackstone, which also provides corporate advice and restructuring services, recently concluded a $23bn takeover of US property firm Equity Office Properties.

Blackstone and its partners have until the middle of April to decide whether to go ahead with a formal bid for Sainsbury's.

Trade unions have criticised the proposed bid and other private equity approaches to firms such as Boots, arguing that they threaten jobs and burden companies with debt.

Blackstone said it intended to list some of its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, but gave no details of when this would happen.

Despite recent stock market volatility, one analyst said it was an "opportune" moment for the firm to make the move.

"It is a sign that people are trying to capitalise on the enthusiasm in the marketplace and the liquidity," said Ned Riley, president of Riley Asset Management.

Private equity firms tend to be very secretive about their operations; a stockmarket listing, however, would subject the company, its investments and some of its strategies to much closer public scrutiny.

Private equity tax rules examined
08 Mar 07 |  Business
Sainsbury's offer deadline issued
06 Mar 07 |  Business
US property firm bought for $36bn
20 Nov 06 |  Business
Center Parcs backs Blackstone bid
09 Mar 06 |  Business

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