ASIA NEWS: Man of the moment: Christopher Heady

Christopher Heady, a long-serving executive of the New York-based private equity behemoth Blackstone and the current head of its Asia real estate business, was elevated to the newly created post of Asia Pacific chairman last month.

Heady's appointment comes in the middle of a wider restructuring of Blackstone Asia's leadership. Among the several senior-level promotions announced in early April included the appointment of Jan Nielsen, head of the firm's private equity investing in Southeast Asia, Japan and Korea and chief operating officer (COO) for Blackstone Capital Partners, as well as COO for all businesses in the region. Nielsen will be working closely with Hong Kong-based Heady, who will now be directing a staff of 70 people across the firm's six offices in the region.

PERE understands that Heady's primary focus would be to continue expanding Blackstone's real estate footprint in the region – a business he has helped grow to enviable proportions. Currently, the firm has around $5 billion invested in the asset class across Asia Pacific.

Heady joined Blackstone in 2000 after working with Morgan Stanley's private equity real estate practice in London. He was part of Blackstone's original London team formed after Joseph Baratta helped establish the European operations in 2001. He moved to the firm's Asia headquarters in 2007 and became senior managing director and head of real estate for the region in 2011.

A Hong Kong-based real estate fund manager says becoming chairman of the world's biggest asset manager at a relatively young age is indicative enough of Heady's prowess. Indeed, under Heady's leadership, Blackstone raised one of the largest ever private equity real estate funds in the region in late 2014, when it closed Blackstone Real Estate Partners (BREP) Asia on its $5 billion hard cap. BREP Asia was Blackstone's maiden vehicle focused on the region.

Talking to PERE about Blackstone's investing approach in the region, Heady said: “Blackstone's Asia real estate strategy remains focused on larger scale investment opportunities, which, whether through distress or complexity, allows us to acquire high quality real estate assets at attractive prices. This is true in all the markets where we operate.”

With the capital from BREP Asia and its $15.8 billion global fund BREP VIII, the firm has been expanding its exposure in key Asian markets including Australia, Japan, China and India. Having select strategies in each market – office investments in India, retail in China and multifamily in Japan – has been Heady and his team's recipe for success.