BlackRock Adds 3 Former Merrill Execs to Build Out PE Team

Nathan Thorne, George Bitar and Mandy Puri have joined BlackRock to build a PE platform that will include about 20 professionals within the next year. The three execs, which founded Merrill Lynch’s PE business in 1994, will report to Matthew Botein, MD and Head of BlackRock Alternative Investors. The three execs are building out a PE capability at BlackRock, said Bobbie Collins, a firm spokeswoman. “It’s too early to comment on what those capabilities will be or on any fundraisings that will take place,” Collins said.


BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK) today announced that it has added private equity to its growing stable of alternative offerings for clients. Industry veterans Nathan Thorne, George Bitar and Mandy Puri have joined the firm as Managing Directors and form the leadership team of the BlackRock Global Private Equity platform which is expected to include approximately 20 professionals within the next year.

In this capacity, Messrs. Thorne, Bitar and Ms. Puri will oversee the build-out and ensure the connectedness of private equity to BlackRock’s global investment platform, comprised of more than 1,500 investment professionals that will provide the team with insights into industry dynamics, companies and management teams. They will report to Matthew Botein, Managing Director and Head of BlackRock Alternative Investors (“BAI”). At March 31, BAI represented $115.3 billion of assets under management and included the firm’s hedge funds, hedge funds of funds, real estate, private equity funds of funds, opportunistic investment vehicles, commodities and currencies. “With the addition of these private equity capabilities, alongside our private equity funds of funds and co-investment funds under the capable management of Russ Steenberg, we now have a complete set of private equity capabilities to offer to our clients,” Mr. Botein concluded.

“We’re delighted to be bringing a proven private equity investment team to BAI,” commented Robert S. Kapito, President of BlackRock. “As Matt and his team have worked to round-out our alternative offerings, we recognized that this particular business was the most important gap in the alternatives portfolio and one in which we have a clear competitive advantage.”

“BlackRock looked at a great number of opportunities as we sought a leadership team that could substantially accelerate our entry into this business, with a focus on identifying a team with a proven record of disciplined private equity investing,” stated Mr. Botein. “Equally important, however, we needed a team that knew how to navigate and leverage the sourcing, diligence and financing advantages presented by being a part of a financial institution with the global footprint and operational scale of BlackRock. We found that in this team. Their depth of experience and deep understanding of private equity – investing successfully in developed and emerging markets through various economic cycles and market disruptions – will expedite our ability to offer clients best-in-class capabilities.”

Messrs. Thorne, Bitar and Ms. Puri began working together at Merrill Lynch in 1990 and went on to found Merrill Lynch”s private equity business in 1994 where they remained until 2009 under Bank of America Corporation. Examples of notable private equity investments in which the team was involved include HCA, Debenhams and Hertz.

“BlackRock is exceptionally well positioned to succeed in private equity,” said Mr. Thorne. “No other fiduciary has the global insights and relationships to generate attractive investment opportunities like BlackRock. We are eager to take advantage of these unique resources on behalf of investor clients.”

Biographical Information:

George A. Bitar: Managing Director and co-head of BlackRock’s Global Private Equity Group, joined BlackRock in 2011. Prior to joining BlackRock, Mr. Bitar was the co-head of North America and co-founder of Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity, the private equity arm of Merrill Lynch & Co.. As co-head of North America, he built and managed a U.S. team of 22 investment professionals. Prior to his private equity experience, Mr. Bitar was with the High Yield Finance and Restructuring Group within Merrill Lynch’s investment banking division, where he advised troubled companies in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Australia and helped U.S., Canadian, European and Australian companies access the U.S. high yield debt market. Mr. Bitar earned a BS degree in Systems Engineering from Boston University in 1986 and an MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School in 1991.

Mandakini Puri: Managing Director and co-head of BlackRock’s Global Private Equity Group, joined BlackRock in 2011. Prior to joining BlackRock, Ms. Puri was the Chief Investment Officer and co-founder of Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity, the private equity arm of Merrill Lynch & Co. As Chief Investment Officer, Ms. Puri developed and oversaw the investment approval and review process as well as the periodic review and valuation of investments. Ms. Puri has worked on developing investment opportunities and sourcing in the U.S., Asia and Latin America. She joined Merrill Lynch in 1986 and started working in the areas of mergers & acquisitions, restructuring from 1987 to 1991 and leveraged finance from 1992 to 1994 within Merrill Lynch’s investment banking division. Ms. Puri is a member of the Indian Institute of Chartered Accountants. Ms. Puri earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Delhi University in 1979 and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1986.

Nathan Thorne: Managing Director and co-head of BlackRock’s Global Private Equity Group, joined BlackRock in 2011. Prior to joining BlackRock, Mr. Thorne was the Chairman, President and co-founder of Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity, the private equity arm of Merrill Lynch & Co. Mr. Thorne joined Merrill Lynch in 1984. Prior to leading the private equity initiative, he served in a number of senior positions within Merrill Lynch’s investment banking division. He began his career at Citibank, NY in 1976. Mr. Thorne earned a BA degree in English Language and Literature from Yale College in 1976.

About BlackRock

BlackRock is a leader in investment management, risk management and advisory services for institutional and retail clients worldwide. At March 31, 2011, BlackRock’s AUM was $3.648 trillion. BlackRock offers products that span the risk spectrum to meet clients’ needs, including active, enhanced and index strategies across markets and asset classes. Products are offered in a variety of structures including separate accounts, mutual funds, iShares® (exchange-traded funds), and other pooled investment vehicles. BlackRock also offers risk management, advisory and enterprise investment system services to a broad base of institutional investors through BlackRock Solutions®. Headquartered in New York City, as of March 31, 2011, the firm has approximately 9,300 employees in 26 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East and Africa. For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at

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