A legend of the private equity industry is retiring.
Ken Whitney, a senior managing director at The Blackstone Group who has long overseen the firm's investor relations and business development group, has informed the firm of his intention to retire, according to an internal Blackstone email seen by sister publication Private Equity International. Blackstone declined to comment.
According to the email, Whitney will not be leaving the firm completely, retaining a role as a senior advisor. It’s not clear if someone will be stepping into Whitney’s role at Blackstone. Two market sources described a shift in Blackstone’s investor relations function over the past few years, which has migrated from centralized control to more local teams for each business line, potentially obviating the need for a universal head.
Ken is one of the reasons that Blackstone is a leader across all of its businesses today and we have … benefitted from [both] his counsel and wisdom over many years.
“For many years, Ken has spearheaded our efforts both to raise capital from, and maintain relations with, our most important limited partners,” according to the email, which was signed by Blackstone’s chief executive officer Steve Schwarzman and president Tony James.
Whitney joined Blackstone in 1988, only a few years after the firm was founded in 1985, and played a key role in helping the firm launch its real estate business and its Park Hill advisory group, as well as Blackstone’s “first foray” into corporate debt, the email said. He began his career at Coopers & Lybrand in 1980, where he spent time in the firm’s accounting and audit areas as well as in the tax and mergers and acquisitions areas, according to his biography posted on the website of wealth advisor Central Park Group, where Whitney serves on the board.
“Ken is one of the reasons that Blackstone is a leader across all of its businesses today and we have … benefitted from [both] his counsel and wisdom over many years,” the email said.
Whitney is well-known throughout the private equity industry, evidenced by the number of market sources who have been speculating about his retirement announcement in recent weeks. Sources were reluctant to comment on the record until Blackstone makes an official announcement about Whitney’s retirement.