Hong Kong/New York: Blackstone Group’s Ben Jenkins, a senior managing director and the firm’s former top Asia dealmaker, is leaving the firm and returning to New York after four years in the region, two sources said.
Jenkins is moving back to New York to accompany his wife, who is taking a senior role in the United States with Carnegie Corporation, the sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
He will be leaving the company at the end of the year, according to one of the sources.
Jenkins, who was based in Hong Kong, arrived in Asia in 2007 and oversaw the buyout group’s first investments across the region, including its $600 million investment in China’s BlueStar Chemical, a subsidiary of ChemChina.
Its other investments in the region have included Dili, eMobile and China Animal Healthcare.
Blackstone declined to comment. The sources declined to be identified because they were not authorised to speak to the media.
Jenkins relocated to Asia from New York in the same year Blackstone hired Hong Kong’s former financial secretary Antony Leung as senior managing director and Greater China chairman, as the firm expanded its investing in the region.
Blackstone had opened its first office in Asia in Mumbai in 2006, at the height of the global credit boom which drew US private equity firms into the region in a hunt for assets.
While the subsequent global downturn has roiled North American and Europe markets, private equity has intensified its focus on Asia, investing growth capital to take minority stakes in the region’s booming emerging markets.
China is the primary focus for global firms investing in Asia. Out of $16.2 billion private equity capital invested in Asia this year, $10.4 billion has been invested in China, recent Thomson Reuters data shows.
To accelerate investments in an increasingly competitive market, Blackstone and rival firms including TPG Capital, Carlyle and the private equity arms of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are all raising local currency funds for China to accelerate investments.
Blackstone reached the first stage of capital raising for its 5 billion yuan fund in April.
Elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region, Blackstone continues to invest from its global fund.
Jenkins, who grew up in the southern United States, spent 12 years with Blackstone. He was Blackstone’s top Asia manager until December, when the firm moved Michael Chae, a senior managing director in Blackstone’s private equity unit in New York, to Hong Kong.
The announcement at the time said Chae would focus time on the firm’s Asian investors, while Jenkins would continue to chase deals.
Jenkins was most recently focused on deal making in Australia, where Blackstone has been active in bidding for assets.
Earlier this year, it bought nearly 600 US shopping malls from Australia’s debt-laden Centro Properties for $9.4 billion in one of the biggest global property deals since the credit crisis.
However, Blackstone has also met with challenges on some deals there. The board of services firm Spotless Group rejected a A$657 million bid from Blackstone earlier this year.
The firm also narrowly failed to reach agreement on valuation for aged care homes company Japara, a source with direct knowledge of the matter previously told Reuters.