Activist investor Bill Ackman confirmed he had built a US$25 million stake in private equity powerhouse Blackstone Group Inc. during the first quarter and disclosed a new position in Park Hotels & Resorts Inc.

The billionaire’s Pershing Square Capital Management, which disclosed the stakes in a regulatory filing Friday, said it owned almost 549,000 shares of Blackstone and about 678,000 Park Hotels shares, valued at US$5.4 million, as of March 31.

Pershing Square is off to a strong start in 2020 despite market volatility brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The firm returned 16.5 per cent on its investments this year through May 12, according to its website. That was largely because of a large hedging bet that paid out about US$2.6 billion -- or roughly 100 times its original value -- that Pershing Square has since exited.

Ackman said he has redeployed the capital by investing further in his portfolio companies, including Lowe’s Cos., Agilent Technologies Inc., Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., Restaurant Brands International Inc., and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. He also reinvested in Starbucks Corp.

The strong start comes after Pershing Square had a record year in 2019, returning 58.1 per cent on its investments.