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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Tony James dismisses bid-rigging claims.
FORTUNE -- The Blackstone Group president and chief operating officer Tony James today made his first public comments on a lawsuit alleging that Blackstone (BX) and 10 other private equity firms and banks conspired to keep prices down on take-private buyouts between 2005 and 2008.
In a Q3 earnings call with reporters, James channeled Joe Biden: "The lawsuit is a complete fabrication and a bunch of malarkey."
When pressed MOREDan Primack - Oct 18, 2012 10:14 AM ET
In attacking private equity, timing was everything.
FORTUNE -- On May 14, President Obama attended a fundraiser at the Park Avenue home of Tony James, president of private equity firm The Blackstone Group (BX). It came just hours after the Obama campaign had released a new TV ad that referred to Mitt Romney's actions at Bain Capital as "vampire capitalism."
The juxtaposition was just downright weird.
So while in Charlotte last week for the Democratic MOREDan Primack - Sep 12, 2012 2:42 PM ET
Obama raises money from private equity, hours after bashing the industry.
FORTUNE -- At a Democratic Party fundraiser, I guess it's inappropriate to mention the elephant in the room.
President Obama last night spent time at the Park Avenue apartment of Blackstone Group (BX) president Tony James, to press the Wall Street flesh and collect $35,800 per plate. It came just hours after his campaign launched its first formal attack on Mitt MOREDan Primack - May 15, 2012 12:15 PM ET
Is private equity off limits in November?
FORTUNE -- Blackstone Group (BX) president Tony James held court with the media this morning, prior to his firm's quarterly earnings call with analysts. One of the questions touched on presidential politics, and if James believes Mitt Romney's expected nomination will result in further attacks against the private equity industry. His reply, in part:
"There were some pretty bad hits to the industry. I thought the MOREDan Primack - Apr 19, 2012 11:07 AM ET
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
This past summer I wrote that Mitt Romney represented a dilemma for private equity:
He is a former buyout baron who generally supports policies that are in the industry's best interests. At the same time, however, his very presence in a general election would foist a great deal of scrutiny not only on his own record at Bain Capital, but on private equity as a whole. And, like with any financial MOREDan Primack - Sep 27, 2011 4:52 PM ET
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