JPMorgan hires Blackstone’s Johnson for China role

Senior investor relations executive Rob Johnson has left The Blackstone Group’s Asia real estate platform to join JPMorgan Asset Management’s Global Real Assets division for a China-focused role.

JPMorgan Asset Management’s Global Real Assets division has hired Rob Johnson from The Blackstone Group for a role focused on expanding its real estate exposure in China.

The investment bank announced today that Johnson had joined as managing director and head of global business development for China real estate. He reports to Michael O’Brien, global head of real assets client relations and strategy, and is based at the bank’s Hong Kong office.

“We’re excited to have Rob on the ground to help US, European, Middle Eastern and Asian clients access the China property market,” said O’Brien. “Rob knows the turf and understands China’s demographic- and urbanisation-driven growth profile.”
David Chen, head of global real assets Asia, who oversees the group’s real estate and infrastructure investment teams in Asia, noted that Asia was of increasing importance to the bank. “Rob’s arrival continues our tradition of building out teams with the best local talent,” he added.

The move to JPMorgan brings to an end an approximately one-year spell at The Blackstone Group for Johnson, who joined when the New York private equity and real estate giant took over the management of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s  (BoAML) Asia Real Estate Principal Investments platform in November last year.

At BoAML, Johnson was responsible for investor relations and capital raising and worked on the platform’s $2.65 billion Asian Real Estate Opportunities Fund.  Raised at the end of 2008 just prior to Bank of America’s take over of Merrill Lynch, the fund and its platform were the subjects of a takeover saga that ultimately resulted in its offloading to Blackstone.

The fund was the subject of a $650 million settlement provided by BoAML to its investors after they threatened legal action following certain actions considered as non-fiduciary. Johnson was part of the delegation that enabled the platform to come under the control of Blackstone.

JPMorgan Asset Management’s Global Real Assets had approximately $56.9 billion in assets under management as of the end of September.