Blackstone taps Merrill Lynch exec as CFO

The private equity firm has hired Merrill chief operating officer Laurence Tosi to replace long-time partner Michael Puglisi, who will stay on as a senior managing director.

The Blackstone Group has tapped Merrill Lynch executive Laurence Tosi as chief financial officer, replacing long-time finance chief Michael Puglisi.

Tosi, chief operating officer for Merrill Lynch’s global markets and investment banking group, will assume his post at Blackstone in August or September and will serve as a member of the firm’s executive committee.

Prior to his appointment as chief operating officer in May of last year, Tosi spent three years as senior vice president and finance director for the investment bank’s 2,600 employee finance, accounting, and regulatory reporting unit.

“Blackstone’s businesses continue to expand in new markets and with new products,” Blackstone co-founder Stephen Schwarzman said in a statement. “Laurence’s deep knowledge of financial services and finance will be a tremendous resource for us.”

Blackstone declined to comment beyond the statement.

Tosi, 40, will be filling the shoes of a long-time firm fixture in Puglisi, who joined the firm in 1994, well before its meteoric rise to the top of the buyout world and public offering last year. Puglisi, 57, will remain with the company to assist Tosi’s transition while also heading “special projects” for the firm.

“In his 14 years at the firm, [Puglisi] has been an integral part of Blackstone’s transition from a small partnership to the largest independent alternative asset manager in the world,” Schwarzman said. “Tony [James, Blackstone’s president] and I are looking forward to his continuing advice and counsel.”

The hiring of Tosi, a Georgetown University graduate and former head of business development for US television network NBC, represents the latest in a series of high-profile personnel departures from beleaguered investment banks to private equity.

Just yesterday, Centerview Partners scooped up Bear Stearns’ media and entertainment finance head Lisbeth Barron. Earlier this month GSO Capital Partners, the Blackstone Group-owned alternative asset manager, tapped former JPMorgan leveraged finance head Tim Donahue to direct its Asia credit investment division.