Edwin Conway, the head of the firm's institutional client business, will replace David Blumer as the new head of BlackRock Alternative Investors, according to an internal memo seen by multiple news outlets. Jim Barry, the firm's head of real estate and infrastructure investing, will become the division's new chief investment officer. The chairman of the group—which focuses on strategies including private equity, hedge funds, real estate and commodities—is Mark Wiseman. Blumer will move to an advisor role.
In addition to giving more power to executives in their respective regions, BlackRock has also made Mark McCombe chief client officer in a move that could position him to eventually supplant founder and CEO Larry Fink. In all, about 20 directors are said to be having their roles shift.
BlackRock, a $6 trillion asset manager, is coming off of disappointing 4Q results, with AUM dropping 5% YoY and profits declining. In January it was also reported that the firm would trim 3% of its workforce, or about 500 jobs globally. But the firm has taken to re-investing in its private markets strategy as LPs continue to devote record amounts of capital into alternative assets, particularly private equity.
Fink is no stranger to PE, having worked under the Blackstone umbrella until a reported dispute with Stephen Schwarzman led to Blackstone selling its stake in the firm's money management division in 1994.
BlackRock has since grown into the world's largest asset manager, known mostly for funds that mirror stocks and bonds. It took nearly 25 years for it to come full circle and launch its own fund for direct PE investments. The long-term capital vehicle has so far fallen short of a projected $10 billion target, with the firm announcing Monday it had raised $2.75 billion. Of that total, $1.5 billion will only become available when the firm receives additional commitments.
BlackRock hasn't been shy in spending recently, spreading its investment across multiple industries. In February, it teamed with KKR in an agreement to invest $4 billion in Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. Late last month, the firm agreed to purchase eFront, a French provider of investment software, from Bridgepoint for $1.3 billion. And last year, it acquired Tennenbaum Capital Partners, a private credit investor with some $9 billion in committed capital.