Blackstone Hires Katsuyuki Kuki as Japan Chairman

Stephen Schwarzman Blackstone

Blackstone boss Stephen Schwarzman is ready to get his hands dirty in the Japan market

Blackstone has hired Katsuyuki Kuki as Chairman and Representative Director for Japan, as the Manhattan-based private equity giant continues to ramp up its presence in the country.

In his new role, Kuki will support and advise on Blackstone’s investment and capital raising efforts in Japan, according to a company announcement. The news follows recent moves by the world’s largest alternative asset manager to boost its real estate portfolio in Japan through the proposed acquisitions of nearly $1 billion in property-focused trusts.

“Katsuyuki Kuki brings a wealth of insight to Blackstone from his 30 years of experience as a senior leader in Japan’s financial services industry,” commented Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of Blackstone in the statement. “We look forward to his leadership and expertise in the country and greater Asia Pacific region, which is an increasingly important part of our business.”

Financial Services Veteran to Lead Blackstone’s Japan Growth

Blackstone is hiring Kuki from JP Morgan in Japan, where he spent nine years in various leadership roles within the investment banking division of the US financial services giant, most recently chairman of banking, for Japan, a position he had held since February 2015.

Kuki’s recruitment comes just over one year after Blackstone promoted the firm’s then head of real estate, Daisuke Kitta, to the role of Head of Japan. No mention was made of Kitta or his working relationship with Kuki in this latest announcement.

Kuki started his career at the Japan Development Bank and at investment banking firm Shearson Lehman Hutton, predecessor to Lehman Brothers, in New York. The Harvard MBA graduate has also held senior leadership roles at UBS Securities and Lehman in Japan.

“I am excited to join Blackstone – a firm with such a strong reputation for excellence across the globe,” said Kuki in the statement. “Alongside the talented existing team in Japan and senior leaders from across the firm, I look forward to continued growth and success in the country.”

PE Behemoth Likes Japanese Property Plays

Blackstone has been active in the Japanese property market since 2010, with investments or commitments totalling JPY 650 billion ($5.7 billion) in transaction value. The firm’s investments include the purchase of GE’s Japan residential portfolio for $1.7 billion in 2014 and the privatization of Japan Residential Investment Corporation in 2015, in a deal worth about $450 million.

More recently, Blackstone in June proposed to acquire Singapore-listed Croesus Retail Trust, a Japanese shopping mall portfolio, for around $650 million – a deal that is moving through the regulatory approval process. Earlier this month the investment firm offered to buy ASX-listed Astro Japan Property Trust, a trove of Japanese office, retail, residential, and hotel assets for around $347 million.

Blackstone, which has over $370 billion in global assets under management, including $104 billion in real estate assets, has also raised over $15 billion of limited partner capital in Japan since 2009.