New York — Blackstone Group, the world’s biggest private equity firm, said first-quarter profit more than doubled as it sold a string of assets, including a stake in Hilton Worldwide Holdings. Economic net income, a measure of earnings that reflects both realised and unrealised investment gains, was $986m, or 82c a share, compared with $370.7m a year earlier, New-York based Blackstone said in a statement on Thursday. Analysts had expected earnings of 68c a share, the average of 12 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Blackstone, led by CEO Steve Schwarzman, sold a record $6.2bn of private equity holdings during the quarter, including majority ownership in cyber-security company Optiv Security and shares of energy exploration company Kosmos Energy. The firm’s real estate business, its largest by assets, sold off $6.7bn in holdings. This was driven by the disposal of a 25% stake in Hilton to China’s HNA Group. It also sold real estate in London, office properties in Sydney and Japanese re...

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