James: Blackstone building Hong Kong team

With $10 billion in fresh powder for global real estate investment, Blackstone is adding to its Asian firepower with a Hong Kong office, president Hamilton James has told PERE.

The Blackstone Group will buttress its Asian real estate investment program with the addition of property investment professionals to a Hong Kong office.

The revelation was made during an interview with Blackstone president and chief operating officer Hamilton James that appears in the March issue of PERE, the sister magazine to this news service. 

Blackstone’s real estate investment team, co-led by Jonathan Gray and Chad Pike, has offices in New York, London, Paris, Mumbai and Tokyo.

In the interview, James noted that the firm is in the midst of adding professionals to the Mumbai and Tokyo offices and is establishing a team in Hong Kong, where Blackstone already has a presence with its private equity investment platform. He declined to comment further on the recruitment activity.

Speaking of Asia, James told PERE: “Those markets will be a much larger portion of our real estate investing activity than they have been historically.”

Blackstone officials last year confirmed to investors that they have completed raising $10 billion for the firm’s most recent private equity real estate fund, although a final close has not yet officially been announced.

In the interview, James, who led the merchant banking and real estate investment platform of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette prior to joining Blackstone in 2002, spoke of a growing interest in the emerging markets generally. “Asia hasn’t been affected by this [credit crunch] at all,” James told PERE.

“And of course it’s growing explosively still. And emerging market opportunities wouldn’t just be in China and India. You could include Russia in that and some of the Latin American countries. And there’s still robust leverage available in Japan.”