Blackstone promotes Jonathan Gray, taps his top deputies to head real estate division

Kathleen McCarthy and Ken Caplan take the helm of private equity firm's most profitable business

From left: Jonathan Gray, Kenneth Caplan and Kathleen McCarthy
From left: Jonathan Gray, Kenneth Caplan and Kathleen McCarthy

The Blackstone Group named Kathleen McCarthy and Kenneth Caplan co-heads of its real estate division, the company announced Tuesday.

The two are replacing Jonathan Gray, who was named president and chief operating officer of Blackstone.

Under Gray’s direction, Blackstone’s real estate business became the firm’s largest by assets and generated roughly half of its pretax profit last year.

McCarthy’s promotion marks a step forward for gender equality in an industry that’s notoriously male-dominated. An October survey by research firm Preqin found that a mere 5 percent of CEOs at private real estate fund managers were female.

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McCarthy previously served as COO of Blackstone’s real estate division. She joined the company in 2010 from Goldman Sachs. In 2013, she was promoted to partner in the real estate group and oversees capital raising and investor relations.

Caplan, who joined Blackstone in 1997, most recently served as chief investment officer of the firm’s real estate division and played a key role in the Hilton Hotels and Equity Office Properties acquisitions, among other deals.

Gray’s promotion cements his status as heir apparent to Blackstone’s CEO Stephen Schwarzman. “The appointment of Jon as president and COO lays the foundation for the next generation of senior management and positions the firm well for future leadership,” Schwarzman said in a statement. Gray replaces Tony James as President, who was named executive vice chairman.

Blackstone, one of New York’s largest private landlords, is reportedly in talks to buy Anbang Insurance Group’s real estate portfolio, which includes assets it owned as recently as two years ago.