Blackstone nabs SAC trading ace for Asian expansion

The firm has hired Aaron Nieman to build an event-driven hedge fund platform targeting the Asia-Pacific region.

The Blackstone Group has added a hedge fund, Altius Advisors, to its roster of Asia-focussed alternative products.

Aaron Nieman, formerly a managing director with Stamford, Connecticut hedge fund giant SAC Capital Management, will launch Altius, which Blackstone characterises as an event-driven strategy targeting opportunities in the Asia Pacific region.

At SAC, which has some $14 billion (€9 billion) in assets under management, Nieman worked in its Canvas Capital Management division and was responsible for merger arbitrage and investments in the Asia Pacific. He was previously with Lehman Brothers’ Tokyo-based Global Trading Strategies Division, formerly known as its Risk Arbitrage Division, which he is credited with building, according to a statement.

“Aaron as a superb history of developing teams and investing in Asia,” Blackstone chief executive Stephen Schwarzman said. “He will add greater depth and intellectual capital to Blackstone’s wide range of alternative investment businesses, and we are delighted that he has chosen to join us.”

Antony Leung, chairman of Blackstone Greater China, added that Nieman and his team will provide additional investment capability and bolster Blackstone’s presence in the region as it aggressively seeks Asian opportunities.

Altius’ chief operating officer is Christopher Pesce, formerly the global head of prime brokerage at Bank of America, before which he was with Goldman Sachs in both New York and Hong Kong.

Blackstone’s other activities in Asia include a fund of hedge funds and two closed-ended mutual funds, The India Fund and The Asia Tigers Fund. Its 10th real estate fund, which closed in April on $10.9 billion, and its fifth global buyout fund, closed on $21.7 billion in August 2007, are also active in the region.