(Bloomberg)—Blackstone Inc. is reshuffling the leadership of a key real estate business as the private equity giant navigates one of the most challenging property markets in years.
Frank Cohen, a nearly three-decade firm veteran, will cede leadership of Blackstone’s “Core+” real estate business to Wesley LePatner, the group’s global chief operating officer, according to Blackstone executives.
LePatner’s promotion puts her in charge of a more than $140 billion business that focuses on long-term real estate bets on properties ranging from industrial warehouses to life-sciences buildings. The “Core+” strategy also includes Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust, the $69 billion vehicle aimed at wealthy individuals. It’s been a critical past few months for BREIT as Blackstone looks to stabilize flows and shore up investors’ confidence in that crown jewel.
The personnel changes were part of long-term management planning, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified citing private information. Cohen will remain chairman and chief executive officer of BREIT.
For years, BREIT benefited from a retail boom, attracting wealthy investors who flocked to private markets in search of higher returns. Now, rising rates and a rockier real estate market have dimmed the allure of those funds to some individuals, causing BREIT to face heightened redemption requests.
BREIT limited how much investors could withdraw in December. Some funds on another “Core+” platform are also facing requests from investors wanting to pull money.
Private Equity Shifts
Volatile markets in recent months have prompted Blackstone to delay the launch of another fund that was supposed to bring private equity investments to high-net-worth individuals.
Blackstone is naming Heather von Zuben, COO of the effort dubbed “BXPE,” as operating chief of the firm’s credit business, according to Blackstone executives.
Von Zuben, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner who joined Blackstone last year, will play a key role in running a roughly $250 billion credit business that provides financing to businesses and other buyout firms. Money managers and private equity firms have boomed in that lending business as banks retrenched after the global financial crisis.
She’ll take over the role that was formerly held by Paul Kelly. He left to head the alternatives business at DWS.
Blackstone is also hiring A.J. Murphy, most recently the head of markets at Standard Investments, as its new chief operating officer of corporate private equity, which oversees some $132 billion. She’s also worked for firms including Goldman Sachs and was head of global capital markets at Bank of America Corp.
Murphy will take over from Robert Ramsauer, who will leave the firm in June after nearly 20 years, one of the people familiar with the matter said.
Blackstone’s leadership changes install three women partners in senior roles at major businesses that were previously held by men.
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