EXCLUSIVE: Blackstone bolsters asset management ranks in Asia

Two managing directors and a principal have been hired for the asset management team as the New York-based giant puts its growing capital resources to work in the region.

New York-based private equity and real estate giant The Blackstone Group has boosted its asset management team in Asia with a trio of hires. The firm has hired Howard Zhang and Lawrence Hutchings as managing directors and Charles Wu as a principal.

The deepening of Blackstone’s asset management bench comes at a time of expansion for the firm in the region. It has now raised $4.6 billion of equity for its first Asia-dedicated opportunity fund, Blackstone Real Estate Partners (BREP) Asia, breaking a fundraising record that has stood since 2008. That fund has a hard cap of $5 billion, which is widely anticipated to be reached before the year is out.

And with 40 percent, or $1.8 billion, of that fund now invested or committed, Blackstone has added extra personnel to manage the assets. The firm currently employs 65 staff across its real estate business in Asia, approximately 20 of which are asset management focused. 

Zhang will join at the end of the month and will work at Blackstone’s Hong Kong office. He previously was chief investment officer at InfraRed NF Investment Advisers, a joint venture between InfraRed Capital Partners and Nan Fung Group, the Hong Kong developer. At Blackstone, he will be responsible for the asset management of the firm’s China portfolio.

Wu, also joins at the end of the month and will work alongside Zhang. He previously worked for Blackstone’s New York neighbor and rival firm, The Carlyle Group.

Hutchings, meanwhile, has joined the firm’s Sydney office, where he will oversee its Australian portfolio. He previously held roles at UK REIT Hammerson, fund manager Henderson Global Investors, retail developer Westfield Group and Australian fund manager AMP Capital. He started earlier this month.

Both Zhang and Hutchings will report to Stuart Grant, the firm’s head of asset management for real estate in Asia. 

Blackstone declined to comment.