Ex M&S chief joins Blackstone

Marc Bolland will help the firm generate investment opportunities in Europe as head of European portfolio operations.

Marc Bolland, former chief executive of UK retail giant Marks and Spencer, is the latest retail king to make the leap into private equity.

Bolland has joined The Blackstone Group as head of European portfolio operations in its private equity business, according to a statement from the firm. He is due to take up the role on 19 September.

It is understood Bolland will use his extensive network of contacts across Europe to help Blackstone identify new investment opportunities, as well as potential board members for portfolio companies.

He follows in the footsteps of his predecessor, Sir Stuart Rose, who was chief executive of Marks and Spencer from 2004 until Bolland took over in 2010, and is now a member of the European advisory board at pan-European mid-market firm Bridgepoint.

In 2015 Justin King, former chief executive of Sainsbury's, was appointed vice-chairman and head of portfolio businesses at Terra Firma Capital Partners. As part of the appointment King took a share in Terra Firma, which was previously wholly owned by founder Guy Hands.

At Blackstone, Bolland will report directly to Dave Calhoun, the firm’s head of private equity portfolio operations. He will also work closely with global private equity head Joe Baratta and Lionel Assant, head of European private equity.

In the statement, Baratta said the firm is “delighted” Bolland is joining.

“He has had an outstanding career leading and developing major international businesses, and I am sure he will add great value to our current and future portfolio businesses.”
Bolland said he was pleased to be joining a firm “of the quality and scale of Blackstone”.

“I look forward to working with its extraordinary team and the Blackstone-owned businesses to drive growth and to add value for investors.”

Blackstone topped the PEI 300 this year, having raised just shy of $60 billion for private equity in the last five years, almost double KKR, which raised $35.25 billion, in second place.

The firm raised $94 billion across all strategies in 2015 alone, $30 billion of which was for private equity across several vehicles. More than half of that capital was committed to Blackstone Capital Partners VII, which closed on $18 billion.