Vestar co-founder Melwani joins Blackstone

Blackstone has appointed Vestar Capital founding partner Prakash Melwani as a senior partner.

( New York-based The Blacktsone Group announced today Prakash Melwani, a founding partner of buyout firm Vestar Capital Partners, will join Blackstone’s private equity group as a senior partner.


Melwani, who co-founded Vestar in 1988, was that firm’s chief investment officer. Previous to that, he was with the management buyout group at First Boston Corp and with NM Rothschild in Hong Kong and London.


According to Blackstone vice chair Hamilton James, Melwani will not focus on a specific sector. “He’s got a lot of experience in consumer products, where we don’t have a great deal of operational depth, so that will certainly be one area where he takes the lead,” James said. “But given his seniority, I expect he’ll be able to help us on several fronts.”


Melwani will take an undisclosed stake in Blackstone. He will formally begin operations with the firm next week.

The Blackstone Group, a financial services firm with offices in New York and London, currently has approximately $8bn of committed capital available for private equity investment, including Blackstone Capital Partners IV, the largest institutional private equity fund ever raised, which closed on $6.45bn in July. James, who himself was lured away form his position as head of CSFB’s private equity and investment banking division to join Blackstone in October, said the firm is building up its partnership resources in order to fully take advantage of its strong cash flow position.


Last month, Blackstone announced it created Blackstone Healthcare Partners and hired three healthcare industry veterans – Lodewijk de Vink, former chairman, president and chief executive officer of Warner-Lambert; Aleksander Erdeljan, former chairman, president and chief executive officer of RP Scherer; and Doug Rogers, a managing director at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette’s healthcare merchant banking group – to lead the newly created entity, which will be the focal point of Blackstone’s pharmaceutical and medical products investments.


In March, Blackstone announced former US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill had agreed to act as special advisor to the firm. The same month, David Verey, former chief executive officer and chairman of Lazard Brothers, joined the firm as a senior advisor in Europe.


Since the close of its debut fund on $950m in 1987, Blackstone has raised a total of approximately $24bn for alternative investment.