And the billionaires get richer. Blackstone founders Steve Schwarzman and Pete Peterson will collect a combined $2.33 bil from the private equity giant's planned IPO, which could take place as early as late June. Schwarzman will keep a 24% stake in the $32B company, worth just under $450M, and the 80-year-old Peterson will cash out with 4% equity, netting him $1.9B.
The Google-level windfalls reflect Wall Street's changing of the guard, with alternative investments taking the place of finance standbys at the top of the gold heap. And as their pots grow bigger—LBO funds were up 57% to $210 billion in 2006—Blackstone and co. are going the one place private equity feared to tred: public. “Everybody is looking at it,” says one insider.