Blackstone appoints former US Treasury Secretary

New York-based private equity firm The Blackstone Group has appointed former US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill as a special advisor to the firm.

( The Blackstone Group has appointed former US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill to act as special advisor to the firm.


O'Neill's primary focus in his role at Blackstone will be to advise the firm's private equity funds' portfolio companies on operational and related issues, and to assist the firm in analyzing potential private equity investment opportunities, Blackstone said in a statement.


O'Neill will also join Blackstone's domestic advisory board, bringing its membership to nine, alongside Charles Lazarus, founder and chairman emeritus of Toys 'R' Us; Anthony Solomon, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Maurice Greenberg, chairman and chief executive officer of AIG; Robert Kennedy, former chairman and chief executive officer of Union Carbide; and John Young former chief executive officer and president of Hewlett-Packard.


“His political career is relevant, but it is secondary,” a source close to Blackstone said. “We are looking to him to bring his expertise as a CEO to bear on our portfolio companies, and in sourcing deals.”


“To have the counsel and advice of someone of Paul O'Neill's stature, and with his track record as an extremely successful CEO, will be of immense value to our firm,” Stephen Schwarzman, president and chief executive officer at Blackstone, said in the statement. “We are very pleased that he has chosen to work with us.”


O'Neill was sworn in as the 72nd Secretary of the Treasury on January 20, 2001 and resigned from the office on December 6 last year, the same day as Lawrence Lindsey, the White House’s chief economic adviser.


O'Neill was chairman and chief executive officer of Alcoa from 1987 to 1999, and retired as chairman at the end of 2000. Prior to joining Alcoa, O'Neill was president of International Paper Company from 1985 to 1987, where he was vice president from 1977 to 1985.


O’Neill’s experience in Washington stretches back to the early 1960s. He joined the Office of Management and Budget in 1967 and was deputy director of the OMB from 1974 to 1977. He began his public service as a computer systems analyst with the U.S. Veterans Administration, where he served from 1961 to 1966.


The Blackstone Group has raised a total of approximately $24bn for alternative asset investing since its formation in 1985. Over $14bn of that has been for private equity investing, including Blackstone Capital Partners IV, the largest institutional private equity fund ever raised, which closed on $6.45bn in July.


Earlier this month, Blackstone completed its $4.7bn acquisition of automotive components manufacturer TRW Automotive from Northrop Grumman Corp. The deal, first announced last November, included approximately $3.9bn in the form of cash and debt retained by TRW Automotive, a $600m payment-in-kind note, and a 19.6 per cent equity investment in the new enterprise.