BlackRock’s Thorne to Leave as Firm Exits Direct Buyouts

BlackRock Inc., the world’s biggest money manager, plans to exit the business of investing directly in private-equity deals as it focuses on its fund-of-funds business.

The move will lead to the departure of Nathan Thorne, George Bitar and Mandy Puri, former Merrill Lynch & Co. private-equity managers hired by BlackRock in 2011, said Brian Beades, a spokesman for New York-based BlackRock.

“We had a very strong direct private-equity team, but given our clients are looking to us for other fund-of-fund solutions, we are going to transition out of the direct PE business,” Beades said in an e-mail.

In a memo to employees today, the firm said its clients are increasingly seeking a “solutions-oriented approach” in private equity through indirect investments as well as co-investments. BlackRock last year acquired the fund-of-funds unit from Swiss Re Ltd., which invests client money in private-equity partnerships. That acquisition helped BlackRock double assets in private-equity funds-of-funds to $15 billion.

BlackRock also said today it hired Andy Stewart from Credit Suisse AG to co-head its alternatives unit along with Matthew Botein.

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