Blackstone’s Property Unit Names Chief Investment Officer

Blackstone Group LP’s real estate unit, the largest private-equity investor in property, promoted Kenneth Caplan to the new role of global chief investment officer, making him second-in-command to global head Jonathan Gray.

Anthony Myers, a London-based senior managing director, succeeds Caplan as head of real estate for Europe, said Christine Anderson, a spokeswoman for New York-based Blackstone. The changes took effect at the start of the year.

“With the increasing size and scale of our real estate business, it is only natural that we are tapping two 15-year-plus veterans of the firm to take on additional responsibility,” Gray said in a statement.

Caplan, 41, joined Blackstone in 1997. He worked on some of the firm’s biggest real estate takeovers, including the $39 billion buyout of Equity Office Properties Trust in 2007, and played a key role in negotiating the debt restructuring for hotel operator Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. He moved to London in 2009 as part of the firm’s expansion in European real estate, and was named European division head at the end of 2011.

His promotion comes as Blackstone prepares to invest a new global real estate fund it began raising in November. The Blackstone Real Estate Partners VIII fund is estimated to reach about $13 billion, about the same size as its predecessor, which set a record for the industry. It will augment separate real estate pools raised for Europe and Asia and a new open-end fund to buy core properties -- high-quality, well-leased buildings.

Biggest Contributor

Of Blackstone’s business units, real estate is the biggest contributor to the firm’s revenue and profit. Gray, who joined Blackstone’s board in 2012, has been the subject of speculation that he may one day succeed President and Chief Operating Officer Tony James. James will turn 64 on Feb. 3, and Gray will be 45 the next day.

Anderson declined to comment on succession.

“As real estate has become a more important growth area at Blackstone, it wants to be sure it has sufficient senior talent to support a bigger operation, and to provide a clean succession if one is needed,” said Erik Gordon, a business and law professor at the University of Michigan.

Caplan, a New Jersey native, worked in the real estate investment banking group of Lazard Freres & Co. before joining Blackstone. He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University, where he received the John Harvard Scholarship for highest academic achievement, according to Blackstone’s website. He moved back to New York at the end of last year to take up his new job.

Balfour Purchase

Myers, 54, joined Blackstone in 2000. Before that, he was executive vice president and chief operating officer of Balfour Holdings Inc., a land-development company that Blackstone affiliates bought in 1997. Myers received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Cape Town and a master of business administration degree from Columbia University, according to Blackstone’s website.

Blackstone manages more than $80 billion of real estate assets, including holdings in the U.S., Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and Brazil. Its properties include a stake in Hilton and more than 45,000 U.S. single-family rental homes. Blackstone last year said it plans to make more investments in Latin America.

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