Blackstone appoints former French ambassador as senior advisor

The New York-based private equity firm’s hiring of Gerard Errera, following a wave of layoffs in December, is intended to bolster its transactions in France. Errera served as the secretary general of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French ambassador to the UK.

The Blackstone Group is appointing Gerard Errera as a special advisor in Paris with a focus on growing the firm’s operations in France and other areas in Europe.

Errera will also sit on the firm’s International Advisory Board and help develop business initiatives and advise on transaction opportunities. Previously, he spent the last two years as secretary general of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and before that served as French ambassador to the UK.

Tony James, president and chief operating officer at Blackstone, said in a statement the appointment demonstrated Blackstone’s commitment to the French market. At the same time, in an investment call last week, James said the US and parts of Asia remained the most attractive prospects for investments, with the firm planning to begin investing its Blackstone Capital Partners VI – which has raised $8 billion so far – in late 2009 or early 2010.

Errera’s appointment comes a few months after Blackstone said it was cutting 70 jobs, or 5 percent of its 1,400-member workforce. The firm recently reported a loss of $827 million for the fourth quarter of 2008, and said it will not pay a quarterly dividend to its investors.