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BlackRock targets direct private equity

Asset management group BlackRock is planning a move into direct private equity investments, almost two decades after if spun out of buyout firm Blackstone Group.

BlackRock has appointed three private equity veterans as it bids to establish a footing in the direct private equity investment segment of the alternatives industry. It currently manages private equity funds of funds, and has made occasional direct private equity investments according to a spokeswoman, but had no formal direct programme until the current initiative was launched.

It has hired Nathan Thorne, George Bitar and Mandy Puri as managing directors. The trio will form the leadership team of BlackRock Global Private Equity, which the group hopes will comprise 20 professionals in twelve months’ time.

Thorne, Bitar and Puri will oversee the build-out of BGPE, BlackRock said in a statement. They will report to Matthew Botein, a managing director and head of BlackRock Alternative Investors. BAI manages more than $115 billion of assets across its hedge funds, real estate and private equity funds of funds, commodities and currency products.

Botein said: “With the addition of these private equity capabilities, alongside our private equity funds of funds and co-investment funds under the capable management of Russ Steenberg, we now have a complete set of private equity capabilities to offer to our clients.”

The trio hired by BlackRock first worked together at Merrill Lynch in 1990, and founded the bank’s private equity business in 1994, where they remained until 2009. They worked on private equity deals including HCA, Debenhams and Hertz, BlackRock said.