Blackstone is promoting its current global co-head of real estate, Ken Caplan, to be one of the company’s two global co-chief investment officers , as the world’s largest alternative asset manager continues to expand its leadership structure.
With the New York-based firm in July last year having become the first private equity player to amass $1 trillion in assets under management, Blackstone announced Caplan’s promotion to the newly created role together with that of current European head of private equity Lionel Assant, who also was elevated to global co-chief CIO.
As part of the same rejigging Nadeem Meghji, head of real estate for the Americas at Blackstone, is taking over Caplan’s co-head of real estate spot.
“We are delighted to elevate three of our longest-tenured investors into these critical positions, as the firm readies itself for an active investment period,” Blackstone co-founder, chairman and CEO Steve Schwarzman said in a release. “They bring strong track records of delivering for our customers, considerable institutional knowledge, and exceptional investment acumen to these new roles.”
The management changes come just under five years after Blackstone had named its then global head of real estate, Jonathan Gray, as president and chief operating officer to succeed Tony James, who moved up to vice chairman. Now 72, James retired from Blackstone just over two years ago.
Quarter-Century at the Firm
Blackstone expects Caplan, in his new role, to work together with chief investment officers and group heads within the company’s divisions to provide top-level oversight, particularly in its real estate strategy and its credit and insurance business.
Chief investment officers within Blackstone’s divisions will continue to report within their business units, with Prakash Melwani, CIO of corporate private equity taking on an expanded role as chairman of Blackstone Capital Partners International.
The company is adding the new management layer as it prepares for what it expects to be an uptick in deals, with the firm stating that it has $200 million in capital ready for deployment.
“The promotion of these highly talented executives will help the firm better identify compelling global investment themes while also enhancing our disciplined investment process,” Gray said.
Caplan has been with Blackstone since 1997 and served as chief investment officer for its real estate division until 2018 when he was promoted to his current role alongside colleague Kathleen McCarthy, who was then the firm’s global chief operating officer. Those promotions came at the same time that Gray was promoted to president and COO.
“Ken is a remarkable leader who I have loved partnering with,” McCarthy said. “We look forward to his continued impact on our business as Co-CIO of the firm.”
As part of the same set of moves, Blackstone said it is elevating its current global head of real estate asset management, Gio Cutaia, to global chief operating officer of its real estate division. Following the promotion, the 10-year company veteran will continue to lead the company’s asset management team, overseeing Blackstone’s 12,000 properties worldwide.
Targetting New Sectors
Blackstone said in its third quarter earnings report in October that it had achieved net income of $552 million in the three months ending 30 September, compared with $2.3 million in the same period a year earlier.
In a call with analysts, Gray said the company is targetting green energy, digital infrastructure and India. Within the real estate realm Blackstone continues to focus on logistics and student housing, among other high-yielding sectors.
With Schwarzman late last year pointing to opportunities to find value in European real estate, Blackstone has sold a number of Asian assets in recent weeks.
Last month the company sold its remaining stake in India’s Embassy Office Parks REIT for $853.5 million, after having established the listed trust in 2019. Also in December, Blackstone closed on a $99 million sale of a commercial building on Shanghai’s Huaihai Road.
During the fourth quarter of last year Blackstone sold its interest in a condo complex on Singapore’s Sentosa island under conditions described by some analysts as distressed, after holding onto the asset since 2014.