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Blackstone taps Gray as president

Jonathan D. Gray

Jonathan D. Gray, global head of real estate at Blackstone, was named president and chief operating officer, taking over the day-to-day management of the firm from Hamilton "Tony" James, who will become executive vice chairman, said Paula Chirhart, spokeswoman.

"We have really well-thought-out, carefully planned succession plans in all of our businesses, from the very top of the firm right on down, for every critical seat ... that goes out years," Mr. James said in the second-quarter 2017 earnings call.

Both Messrs. James and Gray will report to Stephen A. Schwarzman, co-founder, chairman and CEO of the firm, with $434 billion under management.

However, Mr. Schwarzman has no plans to retire any time soon. "I think I can go on forever, probably not true, but that's my delusion," Mr. Schwarzman said in a video posted on Blackstone's website Tuesday.

Mr. Gray helped Blackstone's real estate portfolio grow to $115 billion now from $4 billion in 2005, when he became global head of real estate. He was at the helm when Blackstone won the bid for real estate investment trust Equity Office Properties Trust in a deal valued at $36 billion. That deal was cited as marking the top of the last real estate cycle.

Mr. Gray joined Blackstone's board of directors in 2012. He will remain chairman of Blackstone's real estate committee.

Blackstone's real estate business now will be run by Ken Caplan, a senior managing director and global chief investment officer of the real estate group, and Kathleen McCarthy, a senior managing director and global chief operating officer of the real estate group; they will take on the roles of global co-heads of real estate. Mr. Caplan and Ms. McCarthy will retain their current duties.

Mr. James will continue to lead new business and strategic initiatives at Blackstone, and will sit on the firm's investment committees, management committee and board of directors.