BlackRock's private equity leaders to leave as firm exits direct buyout business

Nathan Thorne, George Bitar and Mandy Puri, will leave BlackRock (BLK) as the firm moves into a fund-of-funds business.

The three men were hired from Merrill Lynch in 2011 as managing directors to build a direct private equity business at BlackRock.

“We had a very strong direct private equity team, but given our clients are looking to us for other fund-of-fund solutions, we are going to transition out of the direct (private equity) business,” Brian Beades, a spokesman for BlackRock, said in an e-mail.

In a memo to employees Friday, the firm said its clients are increasingly seeking a “solutions-oriented approach” in private equity through indirect investments as well as co-investments. BlackRock last year acquired Swiss Re's fund-of-funds unit, which invests client money in private equity partnerships. That acquisition helped BlackRock double assets in private equity funds-of-funds to $15 billion.

Separately, BlackRock said Friday that it had hired Andy Stewart, former managing director and head of liquid alternatives at Credit Suisse, to co-head its alternatives unit along with Matthew Botein.