At the beginning of the month a dispute broke out between CNBC’s Charlie Gasparino and DealBook’s Andrew Ross Sorkin. Gasparino had reported that Apollo was considering going public, following the footsteps of the Blackstone Group and the map laid out by Fortress Investment Group into the public markets. Sorkin declared that CNBC had simply got the story wrong. “It’s not true. Apollo is not going public next month, nor the month after that — and probably not the month after that either,” Sorkin wrote.
As the story progressed it seemed that Sorkin was at least half-right. Reports were published indicating that Apollo was not yet getting ready for a public offering of shares. It was said to be considering a private offering of equity instead. Since these privately sold shares would probably come complete with registration rights that would allow them to be sold on the public markets eventually, the CNBC story didn’t look quite as far off as Sorkin’s item made it seem.
But the reports coming out from the Milken Institute's annual Global Conference indicate that Sorkin may have overshot in his takedown of Gasparino’s report. Apollo founder Leon Black stopped short of commenting on his firm’s plans for an equity offering, but it seems clear they are at least considering a public offering.
Here’s how Business Week describes Black’s remarks at the conference:
But Black did build his case for public ownership of the businesses. He said publicly traded shares would allow him to retain top managers and recruit new ones by offering them stock in the firm. He also said such an offering would give him currency to acquire other, smaller firms. One of the ways Black said he's been able to achieve superior returns was by hiring investment managers with experience in specific industries. He said he'd like to expand that expertise, noting that health care and energy were two areas in which his firm was weak.
Does that sound like someone who isn’t considering a public offering?
The Predator's New Ball [Business Week]