Blackstone appoints Assant as European buyouts head

Thu Sep 6, 2012 5:17pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) has appointed Lionel Assant as head of its European private equity operations following the promotion of Joseph Baratta to global private equity head, the world's largest alternative asset manager said in an internal memo on Thursday.

Assant, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) investment banker, joined Blackstone in 2003 and had worked on several major deals with Baratta, who was appointed global buyouts chief in July and relocated from New York to London.

"He embodies what is great about our firm: putting others first, hard work, intellectual honesty, productivity and a wry sense of humor," according to the internal memo sent out by Baratta and obtained by Reuters.

Blackstone declined to comment.

Assant, together with Robert Reid, another senior managing director at Blackstone, will coordinate the London office and the group's deal sourcing and execution efforts in Europe according to the memo.

Axel Herberg will continue to be responsible for Germany and Gerry Murphy will continue to oversee European portfolio operations and act as the firm's senior ambassador to the European community, according to the memo.

Michael Chae, who is of head of international private equity, will also be playing an important role on the European investment committee, taking part in deal sourcing strategy talent development, the memo added.

Baratta's appointment as global head of private equity was the latest sign that Blackstone President Tony James, who runs Blackstone for Chief Executive Stephen Schwarzman, is becoming less involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. Baratta is seen by Blackstone insiders as a candidate to succeed Schwarzman one day.

Blackstone, whose investments include The Weather Channel, Pinnacle Foods and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, had $46.6 billion in private equity assets as of the end of June. It had $16.4 billion available to spend on leveraged buyouts.

(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York and Simon Meads in London; Editing by Gary Hill and Tim Dobbyn)

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