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Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman speaks during an interview in Beijing on Sept. 9, 2016.Jason Lee

Blackstone Group LP chief executive officer Stephen Schwarzman would like you to buy a data terminal – and if you already have one, he wants you to buy more.

The ink is not yet dry on the private-equity giant's US$17-billion deal to buy a majority share of Thomson Reuters Corp.'s financial-data business and already, Mr. Schwarzman is angling for "frank, friendly conversations" with Blackstone's vast web of contacts, pitching the merits of his firm's plan to revamp the unit's fortunes. The deal places Blackstone at the centre of a long-running battle for supremacy in the market for financial data, where Thomson Reuters has struggled to gain ground against rival Bloomberg LP. Thomson Reuters's financial and risk division brought in US$6.1-billion in revenue in 2017. Yet, Mr. Schwarzman conceded that the financial data niche is "dominated by Bloomberg, which has very good product," speaking at a banking conference in New York on Tuesday.

Blackstone has a track record of squeezing better performance out of the businesses it buys, but in this case, Mr. Schwarzman thinks the company has a trump card in its sleeve: Through its private equity and real estate deals, his firm claims to be the world's largest source of fees paid to the very banks and financial firms that need financial data. "They're almost all really good friends of ours," he said.

Royal Bank of Canada CEO Dave McKay, who was interviewing Mr. Schwarzman and whose bank hosted Tuesday's conference, chimed in: "We've got lots of [Thomson One] machines."

Mr. Schwarzman replied: "Keep ordering and I'll keep coming to conferences," drawing laughs from the audience. "Apparently I can be had – now we know my price."

When Canada's influential Thomson family merged Thomson Corp. with Reuters in a US$17-billion deal a decade ago, it had high hopes for growth. But the deal was struck just as a global financial crisis arrived and the company had been in turnaround mode ever since.

"The deal didn't go as well, I think, as everybody would like it to have gone," Mr. Schwarzman said. "And we got involved in the situation because we thought there was an opportunity to make the company much better."

Woodbridge Co. Ltd., the Thomson family holding company and majority owner of Thomson Reuters, also owns The Globe and Mail. When Blackstone and Thomson Reuters close the deal later this year, the private-equity firm will own 55 per cent of the financial and risk business, spun out as a new company, and Thomson Reuters will keep a 45-per-cent stake. But Blackstone is expected to have greater freedom to be aggressive and cut costs than Thomson Reuters has had as a public company.

"We think – and the Thomson family, I think, and the board agrees with this – we can do, probably, a better job integrating the company. They've got very good data. It's probably not displayed sometimes as well as a competitor," Mr. Schwarzman said. "This is fixable. There are all kinds of efficiencies that you can have."

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