Reuters – Blackstone’s Baratta to Lead Global Buyouts

Blackstone‘s European head of private equity, Joseph Baratta, is to lead its global buyout efforts, which have so far been overseen by Blackstone president Tony James, writes Reuters. Baratta will also join the firm’s management committee. He has worked on some of Blackstone’s most high-profile investments, including SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Merlin Entertainments Group, Center Parcs and Spirit Group.

(Reuters) – The Blackstone Group LP said on Wednesday its European head of private equity, Joseph Baratta, would lead its global buyout efforts, which have so far been overseen by Tony James, Blackstone’s president who runs the firm day-to-day.

Baratta, who will also join the firm’s management committee, has worked on some of Blackstone’s most high-profile investments, including SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Merlin Entertainments Group, Center Parcs and Spirit Group.

“Joe Baratta embodies the best of Blackstone – high integrity, strong investment acumen, a focus on the needs of our limited partners and a great developer of talent,” James said in a statement.

Currently working in London, Baratta will be based in New York from September. Lionel Assant, a senior managing director in London, is expected to assume a leadership role in the European private equity group. James will remain involved in all investment decisions in private equity.

Baratta, who recently turned 40, came to Europe 11 years ago. Together with David Blitzer, another senior Blackstone dealmaker, he is largely credited with building the firm’s private equity business in Europe.

One banker, who knows them both, said Baratta is likely to take a more considered approach than his colleague, who had a propensity to “shoot from the hip.”

Far from being a “strip-and-flip” merchant, Baratta cemented his reputation with Merlin, then a small theme parks operator, which through acquisition and new openings has grown into world No. 2 behind Walt Disney Co.

Baratta, a graduate of Georgetown University will have a huge amount for deals. Blackstone’s latest buyout fund, Blackstone Capital Partners VI, completed fundraising in January, raising just over $16 billion.

Blackstone’s private equity group comprises 129 professionals in New York, London, Germany, Mumbai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. It manages $47 billion in assets.

(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York and Simon Meads in London; editing by Andre Grenon)