John Kukral may no longer be running the real estate arm of The Blackstone Group, but his mark on the company—and on the industry as a whole—can still be felt.
An alumnus of JMB Realty, Kukral joined the New York private equity firm in 1994 after brief stints at both Colony Capital and Starwood Capital. Though Blackstone had been investing in real estate since the early '90s, it was Kukral who helped found the firm's private equity real estate arm, Blackstone Real Estate Advisors, along with Tom Saylak, who left the firm in 2004.
While at Blackstone, Kukral oversaw more than $13 billion in investments, including the firm's recent forays into the hospitality sector. Based in London for several years, Kukral also helped establish the firm's presence in the European property markets. Today, the firm is widely considered to be one of the leading forces in the private equity real estate arena, due in large part to Kukral's stewardship.
With Kukral at the helm, Blackstone really “pushed the envelope of combining private equity and real estate,” noted one industry observer.
Today, that envelope is filled with a lot of cash. Kukral, who left Blackstone at the end of 2005, laid the groundwork for the firm's fifth real estate vehicle, which raised $5.3 billion earlier this year, the largest private equity real estate fund ever.