Blackstone is ramping up its regional presence in Asia with its first office in mainland China.
The group has so far opened offices in Tokyo, Mumbai and Hong Kong, but it is poised to add to the network with an office in China’s second biggest city and political hub.
Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and chief executive of the group, revealed the move as he outlined the firm’s growth around the world during a presentation at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference in New York yesterday, telling delegates: “We just signed a lease in Beijing.”
In the last ten years, he said, Blackstone had opened in London, as well as a smaller office in France, Hong Kong, Tokyo and India.
“We are very rapidly growing our staffing in private equity,” he said. “From 2005 to the current day staffing has grown by 100 percent as we move around the world. It is a business with enormous dynamism and 1,200 people,” he added.
Blackstone opened an office in Mumbai in 2005 to handle private equity and real estate investments and followed that up last year when it opened a satellite office in Hong Kong from where former Hong Kong financial secretary Antony Leung is directing operations as chairman of Blackstone Greater China. Earlier this month, the firm added new impetus to the region when it announced the launch of a hedge fund business Blackstone Altius Advisors, which it called a new “event-driven” strategy focusing on opportunities in the Asia Pacific region. That business is being headquartered in Hong Kong.
In an interview with PERE in March, president and chief operating officer Hamilton James said the firm was busy staffing up the Hong Kong office with real estate professionals. At the same time, he said the firm was adding professionals in Tokyo and Mumbai. Speaking of Asia, he told PERE: “Those markets will be a much larger portion of our real estate investing activity than they have been historically.”
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 active in the region.