Baratta steps up to head Blackstone Europe

Joe Baratta will lead the private equity giant’s European operations after David Blitzer returns to New York.

David Blitzer, who has since 2002 run the Blackstone Group’s European business from London, will return to New York, where the firm is headquartered, this year, a source close the firm confirmed. Blitzer, 41, will make the move at some point over the summer with his wife and five children, the Financial Times reported over the weekend.

The move leaves the European business under the stewardship of Joe Baratta, a London-based senior managing director in the private equity group. Baratta moved to London in 2001 to help establish the European private equity business and has been instrumental in several high profile European deals, such as the acquisitions of Merlin Entertainments and Tragus Group.

Joe Baratta

Blackstone founder and chief executive officer Steve Schwarzman, meanwhile, will move to the firm’s Paris office. Shwarzman already has a property in the south of France, where he spends most of the summer months. Using Paris as a base, Schwarzman will more easily be able to travel to Asia.

Blackstone is near to closing its latest global fund after being in the market for more than two years. The firm is expecting to hit $15 billion for Fund VI, having adjusted the fund’s target down from $20 billion.

The firm has European offices in London, Paris and Düsseldorf. Assets in its European private equity portfolio include United Biscuits, acquired alongside French firm PAI Partners in 2006; Tragus, a UK restaurant group bought from LGV Capital in 2007; and Deutsche Telekom, bought for $3.3 billion in 2006.