Propping Up the Blackstone Share Price

Many thanks to Calculated

Risk for explaining the finer points of the greenshoe option. It turns out

that those 20 million extra Blackstone shares that the lead managers sold

on Monday didn’t necessarily make $234 million for Steve Schwarzman personally

after all. The point of a greenshoe, it seems, is to help support the price

of the stock if it falls below the offering price – as BX, of course,


on Tuesday.

Of course, just because the banks can support the issue doesn’t mean

they are, in fact, supporting it. But if you look at the graph of the BX stock

price since it fell below the $31 level, it does look very – well, horizontal.

There was some volatility at the beginning of both Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s

trading, but then on Tuesday the stock rapidly stabilized just below the $31

offer price, and on Wednesday it stabilized at or slightly above the $30 level.

All of this is consistent with the banks using the proceeds from their Monday

sale of 20 million shares at $31 apiece to prevent the stock from dropping too

embarrassingly. After all, total volume in BX on Tuesday was only 29.6 million

shares, while volume on Wednesdsay was even lower, at 18 million.

Under the terms of a greenshoe operation, the banks can support a stock below

its offering price, but they can’t support it above the offering price. That,

too, is consistent with the fact that BX never seems to have traded above the

$31 level since the minute that level was broken on Tuesday morning.

If the banks are supporting the deal, then I was certainly wrong on Tuesday

when I accused

them of deserting their client. On the other hand, it would mean that Blackstone’s

closing price today, of $29.92 (or 3.5% below the offering price), might actually

be artificially inflated. Which is a little scary, considering that the stock

traded as high as $38 per share on Friday, and has already fallen more than

20% from that level over the course of four trading sessions. It would also

mean that the banks early on Tuesday decided that there was far too much selling

pressure at $31 to support the deal there, and decided instead to try to place

a Tuesday floor slightly below the offering price. And a Wednesday floor slightly

below that.

My guess – and it’s only a guess – is that the banks are intervening,

and that when they stop, the share price is going to fall even further. If holders

of BX don’t sell their shares units now, they might regret

their decision in a few days’ time.

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