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Blackstone Names Real Estate Chief Jon Gray to Succeed Tony James as President

Gray Deputies Kathleen McCarthy, Kenneth Caplan to Co-Lead Global Real Estate Unit
February 13, 2018
From left, Blackstone senior executives Jonathan Gray, Kathleen McCarthy and Kenneth Caplan.
Credit: Blackstone

Blackstone Group LP (NYSE: BX) today announced that Jonathan Gray, who built the private-equity firm's property business into the world's largest real estate investor, will succeed Tony James as president and chief operating officer. Two of Gray's top deputies, Kathleen McCarthy and Kenneth Caplan, will co-head the massive global real estate group Gray has led since 2005.

Although James will be handing over day-to-day management of the firm to the 48-year-old Gray, he will continue in a full-time role at the firm and assume the title of executive vice chairman. Gray and James will both report to Blackstone co-founder, Chairman and CEO Stephen A. Schwarzman.

Caplan and McCarthy have extensive experience with every aspect of the real estate business and have helped oversee its major functions. Caplan now serves as a senior managing director and global chief investment officer of the real estate group and has spent nearly all his entire career at the firm. He has been involved in over $100 billion of real estate acquisitions globally since joining Blackstone in 1997 and spent several years in the company's London office, serving as head of real estate in Europe.

McCarthy also currently serves as a senior managing director as well as global COO of Blackstone Real Estate. She is responsible for the real estate business’s day-to-day operations with a particular focus on investors, capital raising, business development and new investment products. She joined Blackstone in 2010 after a decade in real estate investments and mergers and acquisitions.

In a statement, Gray said he has "tremendous confidence" in the ability of McCarthy and Caplan to continue the real estate group’s strong track record.

"They are excellent investors and operators with remarkable judgment, capable of driving the group to new heights," added Gray, who joined Blackstone straight out of college in 1992 and will remain chairman of Blackstone's real estate investment committee.

Gray started in the private equity and mergers and acquisitions areas of the firm before joining the real estate group at its inception. Since 2005, he has helped build the world’s largest real estate business with more than $115 billion of investor capital. He sits on Blackstone’s board of directors and management committee, playing a critical role in management, strategy and decision-making.

"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," Schwarzman said.

Schwarzman added that the appointment of Gray as president and COO "lays the foundation for the next generation of senior management and positions the firm well for future leadership."

James joined Blackstone in 2002 as vice chairman and COO and assumed the title of president in 2006 when co-founder Peter G. Peterson retired. In his new role, James will continue to sit on the firm’s investment committees, help develop new businesses, serve as a firm spokesman and manage strategic external relationships. He will also continue to sit on the firm’s management committee and board directors.

"Tony James has had a bigger impact on Blackstone than anyone in the firm’s history," Schwarzman said.

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