Blackstone Asia

Blackstone's Asia head Chae returns to New York

Michael Chae is heading back to New York after jump-starting the firm’s private equity business in Asia. Ed Huang and Yi Luo will lead Blackstone’s private equity investments in China.
Michael Chae heads back to New York
Michael Chae heads back to New York

Michael Chae is returning to Blackstone’s New York office in June after three years based in Hong Kong during which he led the firm’s private equity business across the Asia-Pacific region.

The move is in line with expectations ­ Chae was sent to Hong Kong in late 2010 to rebuild, localise and institutionalise Blackstone’s business in Asia, which had been floundering.

Since the global financial crisis, the firm’s team in Asia has more than doubled and now numbers 225 people across eight offices.

There are more than 40 people dedicated to private equity in the region, 15% higher than when Chae moved to Hong Kong. Blackstone sees interesting investment opportunities particularly in China now that valuations have fallen.

Chae, a senior managing director, will continue to oversee Blackstone’s private equity deal making in Asia and he will reassume his sector responsibility for investments in the media and communications industries.

The change comes at a time of transition for the firm in Asia. Antony Leung, Blackstone’s chairman for Greater China, left to join Hong Kong’s Nan Fung as its chief executive in February. 

Leung’s role at Blackstone was to help the firm make connections as it developed and he is not being replaced. Blackstone’s head of India private equity Akhil Gupta was replaced in 2013 after mixed performance in that market where Blackstone had been one of the most active global private equity funds at striking deals.

Going forward, Ed Huang and Yi Luo will lead Blackstone’s private equity investments in China, and Jan Nielsen and James Carnegie will head the business outside of China. 

Huang and Nielsen will coordinate Blackstone’s private equity operations day-to-day from the Hong Kong office, with Luo and Carnegie continuing to head Blackstone’s Shanghai/Beijing and Sydney offices respectively. 

Chae’s move means more responsibility for Chris Heady, head of Blackstone’s real estate business in Asia, who will assume shared oversight for the investor relations and business development team in the region with Chae. Blackstone's real estate and private equity businesses are both sizeable in terms of capital invested but while the PE team invest out of a global $16 billion fund the real estate division is raising a separate pool of capital to invest in Asia.

In addition, Gautam Banerjee, who joined the firm in January last year as chairman of Blackstone Singapore, will become a senior managing director and co-chairman of the Asian operating committee. 

Rebuild

When Chae was sent to Hong Kong in 2010, Blackstone’s business had been struggling to gain traction. Chae replaced Ben Jenkins as Asia head.

Chae, 45, has assembled a team of deal makers across the region including Huang from Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong, Luo, ex-Carlyle based in mainland China, James Carnegie from Archer based in Sydney, and Jan Nielson from Blackstone’s London office. 

Whilst in Hong Kong, Chae oversaw fundraising in the region. Blackstone raised $17 billion from Asia-based investors during Chae’s tenure according to the person familiar with the matter.

Chae, a Forbes top 50 dealmaker last year, also oversaw Blackstone's acquisition of Nasdaq-listed Pactera Technology International, a China-based consulting and technology services provider, in the second-largest private equity deal in China last year at $625 million, The deal was led by Huang [pictured].

Even when he returns to New York he will continue to have close oversight over the Asian operations and visit regularly, said a person familiar with the details of his move.Among the other landmark events during his tenure was the opening of Blackstone’s Singapore office last year, which now has 30 people.

When Chae returns to New York he will continue to be a member of Blackstone’s US and Asian investment committees.

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