Wien’s Words Imperil Blackstone-NYC Pension Deal

Jan 5 2011 | 11:27am ET

Here’s one surprise Byron Wien probably didn’t see coming: That his annual list of ten surprises might cost his firm lucrative mandates from three New York City pension funds.

The city Comptroller’s office cancelled a meeting with Blackstone Group President Tony James which had been scheduled for Friday, Bloomberg News reports. The reason? The Big Apple’s union chiefs are peeved that Wien—in his annual forecast a year ago—said that the country “literally can’t afford the benefits we have given our retirees in state and local government and we have to change that.”

James and other Blackstone honchos have since made clear that they disagree with Wien, the former Morgan Stanley and Pequot Capital Management strategist. But those statements haven’t appeased the union representatives who help decide who gets the pensions’ money.

The anger didn’t stop the city’s five pension funds from handing Blackstone $225 million last year. But the three which were to meet with James this week apparently want Wien to retract his statement before they’ll hire Blackstone to manage money as part of a new hedge fund strategy.

It seems no one at consultancy Aksia has said anything amiss, as it was hired to advise the pensions on that new strategy last month.

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