Blackstone’s Gray said he was “surprised” by Trump meeting

President-elect considered the Democrat for Treasury secretary
December 13, 2016 05:50PM

Jonathan Gray

Blackstone Group’s real estate head Jonathan Gray said he was “surprised” when Donald Trump’s transition team invited him to a meeting last month. “I am a Democrat,” he told Bloomberg News.

Still, he said he took comfort in the meeting “because it signaled that they were reaching out to a broad range of people.”

The Trump team reportedly considered Gray for the position of Treasury secretary last month. He later withdrew his name from consideration.

Gray wouldn’t say whether he would have taken the job if offered, or what exactly he discussed with Trump and his advisers at their meeting in New Jersey. But he did reiterate his earlier claim that Trump’s victory makes stronger economic growth more likely, and said that Blackstone is already adjusting its investment strategy to account for it.

While Gray argued that stronger growth will be good for the real estate industry overall, he cautioned that some core properties could suffer from an expected rise in interest rates, which tends to put upward pressure on cap rates.

“There’s a little more risk on things that are more stabilized, more bond-like, but that’s not a big portion of what we own,” he said.

Asked about China potentially moving to restrict currency outflows, Gray dismissed the suggestion that this could become a problem for Blackstone. The world’s a big place, there’s a lot of liquidity out there,” he said.

In recent years, Blackstone has struck big deals with Chinese investors, selling the Waldorf Astoria and Strategic Hotels & Resorts to Anbang Insurance Group.

“I don’t think we’re going to see a complete cessation of Chinese outbound investment,” Gray added. “But they may make it a little bit harder.” [Bloomberg]Konrad Putzier