JP Morgan Media Banker Joins Blackstone Group

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Private equity firm Blackstone Group (BX.N) has hired JPMorgan (JPM.N) media banker Peter Cohen as head of its global media advisory practice, it said on Wednesday.

Cohen worked on deals such as advising Sam Zell on his acquisition of media group Tribune, and Dow Jones on its acquisition of Marketwatch.com, Blackstone said.

His appointment comes amid upheaval in the media industry, where traditional media companies have been struggling with falling advertising revenues and competition from new media.

Cohen specialized in the publishing and information services industries at JPMorgan but his role at Blackstone, which is a new position, will be much broader.

“I think that now things are beginning to stabilize and valuations have obviously come way down, there’s at least that sense of stability that will allow people to do some deals,” Cohen told Reuters.

Those could include deals coming out of bankruptcies or restructurings, he said.

“I also think that a lot of businesses, especially even local media businesses, which weren’t necessarily great merger candidates in the past, will merge just for the cost savings,” he added.

He also sees the potential for divestitures of non-core assets by businesses and the chance for large-scale transactions.

Blackstone said in its second-quarter earnings release that fee income from its corporate and M&A advisory services business increased $13 million versus the previous year.

The M&A advisory group, headed up by John Studzinski, has large assignments including advising insurer AIG (AIG.N) on its restructuring. (Reporting by Megan Davies, editing by Dave Zimmerman)