July 4, 2015 / 4:55 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-MOVES-Blackstone hires Liping Zhang as Greater China chairman -sources

* Zhang most recently worked with Credit Suisse

* China dominated PE-backed M&A in first-half of 2015

* Neil Harvey to serve as Credit Suisse’s Greater China CEO (Recasts with company confirmation)

By Nishant Kumar and Fiona Lau

LONDON/HONG KONG July 3 (Reuters) - Blackstone Group LP has hired Liping Zhang as its chairman for Greater China as private-equity deals boom in the region, the U.S.-based firm said on Saturday, confirming an earlier Reuters story.

Zhang, who mostly recently served as the co-chief executive officer for Greater China at Credit Suisse, will help Blackstone to expand its presence in the region, the statement added.

Blackstone manages more than $300 billion globally and is one of the world’s biggest real estate investors.

Stephen A. Schwarzman, Blackstone co-founder and CEO, said Zhang’s appointment underscores the strategic importance of Greater China to Blackstone. Zhang has more than 30 years of financial industry experience, the statement added.

Zhang’s addition to Blackstone’s team comes at a time when private-equity-backed M&A in Asia ex-Japan surged about 58 percent to $42.2 billion in the first-half of 2015, according to Thomson Reuters data.

That’s the best start to a year on record and China accounted for 71 percent of the deals, despite concerns about its slowing economy.

Schwarzman, a well regarded Wall Street dealmaker, is deepening his China ties and in 2013 donated $100 million to a scholarship fund at Tsinghua University in 2013, in one of the largest globally funded philanthropic project in country’s history.

Tsinghua University has trained many of China’s top technocrats, including President Xi Jinping.

Zhang sent an email on Friday saying he is leaving Credit Suisse to join an unidentified client, Reuters reported on Friday.

Neil Harvey, the other co-CEO of Credit Suisse for Greater China, will become sole CEO, the sources said.

Credit Suisse did not reply to an email seeking comments on Saturday. (Reporting by Nishant Kumar in London and Fiona Lau of IFR in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Denny Thomas and Elzio Barreto; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier & Kim Coghill)

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