Blackstone chief Steve Schwarzman just appeared on CNBC with Maria Bartiromo.He’s in Russia for the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
He told Bartiromo that the two main obstacles to investing in Russia are “the rule of law and also, basically, bribery.”
He added, however, “the government appears to be making a change.”
“The government is quite forthright about encouraging foreign-direct investment, talking about the problems you just mentioned and some others, and talking about aggressively addressing those and changing them,” Schwarzman said.
When asked about investment opportunities in Russia, the Blackstone chief highlighted that there are opportunities outside of resources and materials. “Growth is coming from almost everywhere,” he said. “They actually have quite a robust consumer economy, so one doesn’t have to be in resources and minerals to do well. They’ve got a fast-growing pharmaceutical industry, for example.”
As for Greece and the general climate in Europe right now, Schwarzman said people are “feeling the uncertainty of not only the problems in Greece… in a major way. At the same time, there’s almost like a free-floating anger directed at the financial community, which makes decision-making and other things even more difficult.”
He added that there seems to be “certain caution and defensiveness and almost a hiatus on certain types of things.”
But Blackstone is investing in Europe anyway. The company just bough a company for one billion dollars in Spain.
“One of the things about what we do for a living is when everybody is discouraged and multiples go down, there are usually very good things to buy,” he said. “We’ll probably be announcing another one within a week in another European country… and we haven’t bought companies in Europe for years. So the financial crisis there and the uncertainty leads certain sellers to say I’ve had enough. If you’re buying high-quality companies at what we hope to be, when we look back, reasonable prices, then we should do very well.”
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