BlackRock head goes solo

The head of BlackRock investment management firm, spun out of The Blackstone Group in 1992, has stepped down as president—reportedly to raise a $1 billion fund for private equity, hedge fund and real estate investments.

BlackRock announced today that co-founder Ralph Schlosstein has stepped down as president. Schlosstein is venturing off to raise as much as $1 billion for private equity, hedge fund and real estate investments, Bloomberg reported. He may also buy stakes in other asset managers.

Schlosstein, a member of BlackRock’s executive and management committee, is also chairman and president of BlackRock Liquidity Funds and director and officer of BlackRock Realty Advisors. Before co-founding BlackRock, Schlosstein was a managing director at Lehman Brothers and later became co-head of its mortgage and savings group.

“Ralph has been a tremendous partner, and his leadership and financial expertise have been key drivers of BlackRock’s success and global expansion,” Laurence Fink, BlackRock chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement released by the firm. “He has touched every component of our business, from creating early closed-end funds to building our insurance business, launching BlackRock Solutions and overseeing our alternatives business. Most recently, Ralph played a vitally important role as leader of the State Street Research and MLIM integrations.”

Schlosstein will remain with the firm as an advisor until early next year. Robert Kapito was appointed president by the board effective immediately.

In his new role, Kapito, currently a director and vice chairman for the firm and head of portfolio management, will be responsible for overseeing the firm’s key operating units, including the account management group, the portfolio management group, the real estate group and BlackRock Solutions. He will report to the firm’s chairman and chief executive officer.

Kapito joined the firm in 1988 and has served in different capacities, including co-head of fixed income, head of portfolio management and vice chairman. He was the vice president of First Boston’s mortgage products group prior to joining BlackRock. Kapito has a BS in economics from the Wharton School and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

BlackRock was founded in 1988 as Blackstone Financial Management and was renamed BlackRock in 1992. The firm currently manages over $27 billion in real estate debt and equity strategies, focusing on the US and global markets.

Last month, the firm closed on its purchase of the Calhoun Square property in Minneapolis’ Uptown area from Iowa-based Principal Global Investors. Located at the center of one of the Twin Cities’ busiest commercial districts, Calhoun Square is a mixed-use property with retail, entertainment and office space. The property was sold for more than $45 million according to local press.