Blackstone’s Crown Prince Built His Career on Bold Real Estate Bets

How do you get to the top of the private equity business? Turns out, it’s by getting really, really good at flipping real estate.

his month, Jon Gray, 48, became president and chief operating officer of Blackstone Group LP. The job sets him up to one day succeed Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Stephen Schwarzman, who’s steered the private equity firm over 30 years from a $400,000 initial investment to $434 billion in assets. The traditional core of the private equity game is corporate buyouts, supercharged with debt. Blackstone set itself apart by diversifying into hedge funds and real estate, and providing credit to companies. Gray, as head of the real estate division, expanded the portfolio into a $115 billion property giant that’s Blackstone’s top profit driver.

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