Blackstone announced Tuesday that President and Chief Operating Officer Tony James will be handing over daily management of the firm to Jon Gray, global head of real estate.
The company explained that James will stay at the firm but move into a full-time role as executive vice chairman, and will report to Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder, chairman and CEO.
James joined Blackstone in 2002 as vice chairman and chief operating officer and became president in 2006, following co-founder Peter G. Peterson’s retirement. In his new role, he will continue to sit on the firm’s investment committees, help develop new businesses for the firm, serve as a spokesman and manage strategic external relationships, the company said. He will also continue to sit on the firm’s management committee and board of directors.
“I have had a wonderful 15 years at Blackstone so far and still savor every minute of it,” James said. “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.”
Gray joined Blackstone in 1992 immediately after graduating college. He began in the private equity and mergers and acquisition areas of the firm before joining the real estate group at its inception, the company said. Gray began leading the firm’s real estate business in 2005, helping grow out the business with more than $115 billion in investor capital, according to the company. Gray also serves on Blackstone’s board of directors and management committee, playing a critical role in firm-wide management, strategy and decisionmaking.
“I’ve learned over the last 26 years that Jon Gray has great judgment, enormous energy and unique personal charisma, which has enabled him to garner enormous respect within the global financial community,” Schwartzman said. “His strong values and passion for excellence are the embodiment of Blackstone’s core principles. The appointment of Jon as president and COO lays the foundation for the next generation of senior management and positions the firm well for future leadership.”
“I have spent my entire career at Blackstone and could not be more proud to be part of this firm,” said Gray. “Despite our tremendous success to date, I am quite excited about the opportunity to continue to innovate for both our investors and shareholders. I look forward to working closely with Steve, Tony and our immensely talented team to help lead this growth while maintaining the highest standards of integrity and investment discipline.”
What about Gray’s role as global head of real estate?
Blackstone has named two long-time leaders of the real estate group, Ken Caplan and Kathleen McCarthy, as global co-heads of the real estate business.
Gray will remain chairman of the company’s real estate investment committee and will continue to spend considerable time working with both Caplan and McCarthy to ensure the group maintains its strong growth trajectory and investment track record, the company explained in a press release.
Prior to his new role, Caplan served as senior managing director and global chief investment officer of the real estate group. During his 21 years at Blackstone, he has been involved in more than $100 billion of global real estate acquisitions. Caplan spent several years in Blackstone’s London office, serving as the company’s head of real estate in Europe.
McCarthy served as a senior managing director and global chief operating officer of Blackstone Real Estate, overseeing the real estate business’s day-to-day operations with a particular focus on its investors, capital raising and business development efforts across new investment products.
“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,” said Gray. “They are excellent investors and operators with remarkable judgment, capable of driving the group to new heights.”