Blackstone-Steinour Partnership Dissipates

Last November, we reported that former Citizens Financial chief Steve Steinour was in talks with The Blackstone Group to partner on a “multi-billion dollar” fund that would buy distressed banks and other financial services companies. What we didn’t know was that, just weeks later, Steinour was approached by Huntington Bancshares (Nasdaq: HBAN) to become its new president and CEO. He accepted, and a formal announcement was made earlier today.

“Blackstone was a terrific organization, and I got to work with a number of the team members there,” Steinour tells peHUB. “It quite possibly could have ended up different [had the fundraising environment been better]. When we came together late in the summer, it was with the expectation of reaching into their global network. But once October came, it became obvious that it was going to be much more difficult.”

Steinour competed against Huntington in certain Michigan and Ohio markets while with Citizens, and says that he “was always very impressed with the institution and the quality of its products.” He also surprised me a bit by saying that his plans are more focused on organic growth than acqusitions. Not only was Steinour obviously planning to be an acquiror as a private equity investor, but that also had been his reputation with Citizens.

Finally, it’s worth noting that Steinour’s move to Huntington formally ends his role with CrossHarbour Capital Partners, a Boston-based alternative asset manager that he joined last May as a managing partner. The plan had been to raise the financial services fund in partnership with Blackstone, but under the CrossHarbour umbrella.

We’ve left messages with both Blackstone and CrossHarbour requesting comment.