Blackstone loses Australia fundraiser

Placement agent FIRSTavenue has poached Martin Donnelly to lead its newly opened Sydney office.

Global placement agent FIRSTavenue has bolstered its fundraising capabilities in the Australasian region, opening a new office in Sydney and hiring Martin Donnelly as a partner there, according to a statement.

Donnelly will work closely with investors in Australia and New Zealand, as well as identifying potential GP clients for the firm.

He joins from The Blackstone Group in Australia, where he has been managing director of the hedge fund solutions group since 2011, focusing on developing client relations in the region.

His departure comes just months after the global private equity firm lost three of its Asia-based chairmen over a two-month period, including Australia-based Paul Costello, who had joined in 2011 to lead the firm’s efforts in the region.

Costello was later replaced by senior advisor James Carnegie, who took up the role of senior managing director and head of Australia operations at the firm.

Blackstone did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Prior to Blackstone, Donnelly was deputy chief executive officer and head of distribution and ING Investment Management in Australia, where he was a member of the firm’s private equity investment committee.

“I am pleased to be joining FIRSTavenue at such an exciting time. It has established its credentials with a number of Australian managers, successfully representing them to investors globally,” Donnelly said in a statement.

“Importantly, the firm has also demonstrated an ability to represent top tier alternative asset managers to the Australian institutional market. I look forward to assisting the firm as it continues to build a strong and successful franchise, expanding their exposure to Australia and New Zealand.”

Paul Buckley, founder and managing partner at FIRSTavenue, added, “Martin’s addition represents a further strategic investment in the Australian [and] New Zealand marketplace where the firm already has a long list of GP clients and where LPs continue to grow in size and sophistication across our four target asset classes.”

FIRSTavenue opens its doors in Sydney as Australian and New Zealand LPs increasingly look abroad to invest in private equity, diversifying their historically domestic alternative asset portfolios.

Similarly, in February last year, London-based MVision Private Equity Advisers opened its Sydney office, run by managing director Nikki Brown, who has been with the firm since 2001, PEI reported earlier.