FORTUNE -- The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that The Blackstone Group (BX) was grooming Jonathan Grey, the 43- year-old head of its booming real estate business, to eventually succeed firm president Tony James. And, in time, to succeed firm founder and CEO Steve Schwarzman.
I'd wager that the WSJ is correct, both on the individual and the timing.
As for Grey, his ascension at Blackstone isn't exactly breaking news. Nearly two years ago, The Financial Times wrote something very close to what the WSJ published yesterday. And, since then, Tony James himself has noted that Grey's success has helped transform Blackstone from a private equity firm that does real estate into a real estate firm that does private equity.
As for the timing, there continue to be widespread speculation -- both inside Blackstone and in private equity circles -- that James would be willing to leave Blackstone if the right offer comes along. Not for another investment job, but rather for something either in government (James was a big Obama supporter) or in the nonprofit world. Some of that talk was heightened last fall, when James said during an interview that "if I felt I could do something good for the world, I might consider that."
For now, however, Blackstone's succession plan remains just that. A plan. Kind of like it was two years ago. What we've learned this week isn't so much something new, so much as that nothing's changed.
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The private equity giant has soared by obsessing about danger - and by becoming more than a one-man show.
FORTUNE -- The last time Blackstone's Steve Schwarzman was featured in the pages of Fortune, it was March 2007, and private equity firms were reveling in their moment of maximum glory. A frenzy of buying and bidding was pushing takeover deals into the tens of billions. Blackstone's founders, Schwarzman and Pete Peterson, MOREKatie Benner - Dec 20, 2011 5:00 AM ET
A rich guy threw a party. Get over it.
Leon Black, head of private equity firm Apollo Global Management (APO), is getting skewered today for spending millions of dollars on his 60th birthday party this past weekend.
Elton John did the singing, Vera Wang did the dressing and and it didn't help that attendees like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mayor Mike Bloomberg added to an air of corporatist complicity. For example, MOREDan Primack - Aug 19, 2011 2:30 PM ET
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