For Blackstone’s Martin Brand It’s All About The Data

Resting on his laurels isn't even in Martin Brand, the Blackstone investor’s vocabulary.

Just as Blackstone Group was completing its $20 billion purchase of Thomas Reuters’s financial and risk unit in October, Brand was already plotting the firm’s next move. Renamed Refinitiv, Brand and his team at Blackstone knew the financial data company needed scale to justify the deal. To meet that end Brand determined the next move was to combine with a stock exchange. The target back then: the London Stock Exchange Group.

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Fast forward a few months and Brand made his vision a reality, orchestrating the sale of Refinitiv to the London Stock Exchange in an all-stock deal that values Refinitiv at $27 billion including its debt. Combined the new company is a direct rival to Bloomberg, which has dominated the financial data market for decades. Under the deal, Refinitiv shareholders get a 37% stake in the London Stock Exchange.

The deal-making on the part of Brand wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows the 44-year managing partner at Blackstone who heads up financial technology investments. Known for being a straight shooter when it comes to negotiating, Brand shuns posturing. His style has paid off. Since joining Blackstone in 2003, Brand has spearheaded investments in Thomson Reuters/Refinitiv, Ultimate Software, Paysafe and NCR among a long laundry list of others. The former derivatives trader at Goldman Sachs is also a member of the Investment Committee of Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities funds. The Oxford and Harvard trained investor sits on the boards of Refinitiv, Kronos, Paysafe, Exeter Finance, and First Eagle Investment Management.

Brand grew up in Düsseldorf, a German city where his father was an architect and his mother a primary school teacher. One of his claims to fame while growing up: winning the national mathematics competition in Germany back in 1994. According to media reports, it was his third attempt to win in a span of four years.

Brand’s determination has served him well over the years, propelling him to his current role at Blackstone. His deep knowledge about financial technology has enabled Blackstone to make bets on the power of data including the firm’s earlier investment in Ipreo, the data company Blackstone and Goldman Sachs sold to IHS Markit last May for $1.9 billion. The Refinitiv sale to London Stock Exchange is another bet on the impact data has on financial companies.
“Refinitiv has been an outstanding performer for Blackstone and our partners Thomson Reuters, CPPIB, and GIC,” Brand said in August when commenting on the sale. “We believe the combination announced today creates a strongly positioned leader in financial markets infrastructure, and we are excited about the continued prospects of Blackstone’s investment as a long-term partner of LSEG.”