Tony James is stepping down as Blackstone Group’s president and chief operating officer, relinquishing his management responsibilities at the private equity firm to Jon Gray.
Gray, who has led Blackstone’s real estate group since 2005, will report to Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and chief executive officer, according to a statement from the firm Tuesday. James will serve as executive vice chairman and report to Schwarzman.
“One of my most important responsibilities is succession, and I am blessed to have a spectacular leader and investor like Jon Gray to whom I can hand the reins,” James said in the statement.
James joined Blackstone as COO and vice chairman in 2002, becoming president in 2006 upon the retirement of the firm’s co-founder Peter Peterson. Schwarzman and Peterson co-founded Blackstone as a buyout firm in 1985.
The asset manager has expanded from its traditional private equity roots into a firm that oversees more than $430 billion of assets, including credit, real estate and hedge funds. James led Blackstone’s initial public offering in 2007 and the purchase of GSO Capital Partners, the firm’s credit unit, in 2008.
“Tony has had a bigger impact on Blackstone than anyone in the firm’s history,” Schwarzman said in the statement, adding that he helped expand the firm’s assets “many times over.”
Schwarzman said James "has been instrumental in evaluating fund investments and conceptualizing and implementing numerous growth initiatives.”
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As executive vice chairman, James will continue to help develop new businesses at the alternative asset manager, sit on investment committees, and serve as a spokesman for the firm. He will also remain on Blackstone’s management committee.
Gray has been with Blackstone since 1992, joining the firm immediately after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. He has worked in the firm’s real estate group since its inception, helping to build it into the world’s largest real estate business with $115 billion of assets under management, according to the statement.
Ken Caplan and Kathleen McCarthy, senior managing directors within the real estate group, are replacing Gray as global co-heads of the unit. Caplan, CIO for global real estate, joined Blackstone in 1997. McCarthy, the global COO for the group, arrived to the firm in 2010.
“Having worked closely with Ken and Kathleen for many years, I have tremendous confidence in their ability to continue the group’s strong track record,” Gray said in the statement.