ESG

Blackstone taps Goldman alum for new social good initiative

Blackstone Group hired Tanya Barnes, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs Group (GS), to lead a new impact investing strategy, as pension plans and other institutions seek to put money into more businesses with social and environmental benefits.

Blackstone's impact initiative will fall under its Strategic Partners group, run by Verdun Perry, and focus on investments advancing health and well-being, financial access, sustainable communities and green technologies, according to the New York-based firm. Along with direct investments, the strategy will include co-investing with other managers making socially conscious bets, Ms. Barnes said.

"We look forward to meeting the growing demand for impact investments," Blackstone President Jon Gray said. "They are a natural extension of our business model — delivering value to investors while having a positive impact on the communities in which we operate."

Private equity rivals including KKR, Bain Capital and TPG have increasingly moved into impact investing, starting funds devoted to sustainability and social good while also achieving solid returns. Bain raised $390 million in 2017 for a fund that focuses on mission-oriented North American companies. TPG's $2 billion Rise Fund is the largest social-impact pool of its kind. The social investing industry amassed $12 trillion in assets, according to a report last year.

Ms. Barnes focused on private equity investments and helped build a co-investment business at Goldman Sachs's merchant banking group before leaving in 2016 after 15 years. Before joining Blackstone, she ran her own consulting firm, where she advised investors and board members.

Blackstone's expertise and scale will help "expand the role of private capital to create solutions that address the world's most pressing social and environmental challenges," she said.

The impact platform has significant growth potential at Blackstone, according to Mr. Perry.

"We believe it will greatly expand our ability to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact, while making the companies we invest in more valuable," he said.

Strategic Partners manages $28 billion of assets across private equity, real estate and infrastructure funds. It has acquired more than 3,500 interests from limited partners cashing out of their investments. Blackstone, which oversees $512 billion across the firm, bought the business in 2013 from Credit Suisse Group.