Several former Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. bankers have landed at Blackstone Group LP thanks to an unlikely headhunter: the Chinese government.
announced in February.
"They said they were impressed with the Lehman team," says John Studzinski, senior managing director and global head of Blackstone's corporate advisory group.
So Blackstone hired them as part of a new 12-person Asian advisory team based in Hong Kong and Beijing. "We had been thinking about it for quite some time," Studzinski says.
Steains joins as a partner, while van Jaarsveld and Lee come on as managing directors. Blackstone has also picked up Jianping Zheng as a partner and Jing Xiaowen as managing director from Studzinski's old stomping grounds, HSBC plc. Junior hires include Pithambar Gona, Andrew Cheng, Akshay Natarajan, Sharon Mao, Shuyang Bai, Jay Chae and May Wong.
Blackstone launched its Hong Kong office in 2007 under senior managing director Antony Leung. The firm looks to expand its foothold in China, where it has a close relationship with the government. In 2007, government-owned China Investment Corp. Ltd. paid $3 billion for a 9.7% stake in Blackstone. Blackstone most recently advised the China Development Bank on its increased investment in Barclays plc.
Last spring, Blackstone hired Hong Kong headhunter Laurus Group to recruit bankers for its Asia advisory team. The firm brought in some of the new hires, including the HSBC bankers. Blackstone wanted Mandarin speakers with a solid dealmaking track record.
"Our principal client is China and we want to be able to service them," Studzinski says. As for recruiting in a rough economy, Studzinski says: "When there is a lot of instability is the best time to hire high quality people." And you never know where the recommendation may come from.