updated 3/22/2007 5:00:49 PM ET 2007-03-22T21:00:49

Blackstone Group LP, one of the world’s biggest private equity firms, on Thursday said it seeks to raise up to $4 billion in a highly anticipated initial public offering.

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The New York-based firm, known for multibillion dollar takeovers like February’s $23 billion buyout of Equity Office Properties, announced its intentions to go public in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The firm plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange.

Blackstone — founded in 1985 by former Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. bankers Stephen Schwarzman and Pete Peterson — said the initial public offering will allow it to tap new sources of capital for buyouts. In addition, it helps extend Blackstone’s brand name and gives management a way to profit from the increased value of their stakes.

The deal ends more than a week of speculation that Schwarzman planned to turn the firm into a public entity.

The filing said that Schwarzman and other top management plan to keep control of the company and the collection of companies it has acquired.

Blackstone Group is managed by general partner Blackstone Group Management LLC, which is owned by the company’s senior managing directors. Holders of the company’s common stock will have only limited voting rights and will have no right to elect the general partner or its directors, according to the offering’s prospectus.

Morgan Stanley Inc., Citigroup Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Credit Suisse Group, Lehman Brothers and Deutsche Bank Securities are listed as underwriters for the offering.

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