News analysis: Blackstone has deep IR bench

Four senior managing directors and 73 total investor relations professionals will remain following the departure of 13-year IR veteran Maryfrances Metrick.

The departure of senior managing director Maryfrances Metrick from Blackstone’s investor relations team to Centerbridge Partners leaves some big shoes to fill in the firm’s IR department, but like most other large private investment firms, Blackstone has been aggressively staffing up its IR function in recent years.

The firm today employs 73 total investor relations professionals, including several key senior IR pros.

Blackstone’s IR team is led by Ken Whitney, a 22-year veteran of the firm who previously worked at auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers. Whitney oversees a team of around 40 investor relations professionals.

Four additional senior managing directors remain on Blackstone’s New York-based investor relations team, including former partner at Atlantic Pacific Capital Michael Sotirhos, who prior to Atlantic Pacific raised private equity funds at Merrill Lynch while based in London.

In 2007, former president of Los Angeles-based Cliffwood Partners Mike Casey joined Blackstone’s IR team to focus primarily on raising funds for the firm’s real estate investments.

Remaining senior managing directors John Donne, former partner at Bennett Restructuring Funds, and Edwin Conway, former executive director at Arden Asset Management, were hired in 2005. In total, Blackstone has about 73 investor relations professionals across all its funds, including its funds of hedge funds and its credit vehicles. The IR personnel are distinct from the team that works for Park Hill, Blackstone’s placement agent affiliate.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has been strengthening its fundraising team from “five to eight people three years ago” to about 30 people today, global head of KKR’s client and partner group Suzanne Donohoe told PEO on Monday.

A number of other large private investment firms have also bolstered their investor relations department recently. In the past two months, Highland Capital Management and TA Associates each hired investor relations professionals to fill the newly created roles of managing director and vice president of investor relations, respectively.