Exclusive: Blackstone grooms six executives for Schwarzman's job

Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:04pm EDT
 
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By Greg Roumeliotis and Simon Meads

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - When Blackstone Group LP named a new global head of private equity last month, Chief Executive Stephen Schwarzman was looking for more than just a business unit chief.

Even though the buyout king has no plans to retire, the appointment of Joe Baratta, a 41-year-old dealmaker credited with building up the firm's European buyouts practice, was the latest step in a wider succession plan, Blackstone insiders said.

Baratta joins five other senior Blackstone executives from whose ranks the successor to Schwarzman, 65, will eventually emerge, the sources said. The others are Jonathan Gray, 42, real estate chief; Bennett Goodman, 54, co-founder of the credit business; Tom Hill, 63, who runs the hedge fund team; Laurence Tosi, 44, the chief financial officer; and Joan Solotar, 47, who spearheads investor relations, the sources said.

Blackstone declined to comment on succession planning and on behalf of the executives.

Blackstone's arrangements, as revealed by these sources, bring into sharper focus how and whom it will choose to lead the world's largest alternative asset management house.

They also highlight the succession issue confronting other private equity firms launched in the leveraged buyout revolution of the 1980s and 1990s, whose larger-than-life leaders are now close to or past retirement age.

Those include Henry Kravis, 68, and George Roberts, 68 at KKR & Co LP; and David Rubenstein, 63, William Conway, 63, and Daniel D' Aniello, 65, at Carlyle Group LP.

To be sure, the selection of a CEO is not as important as in the firm's early years, given the growth in headcount and resources at Blackstone, which now employs close to 1,600 professionals.   Continued...

 
Blackstone Group co-founder Stephen A. Schwarzman attends the eG8 forum in Paris May 25, 2011. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes