Blackstone Hires Distressed Debt Specialist

NEW YORK (HedgeWorld.com)--The Blackstone Group has hired John Dionne as a senior managing director and chief investment officer of Blackstone Distressed Debt Advisors LP.

His role will be to lead the development of a new investment focus on distressed debt with an emphasis on smaller, less efficiently traded issues. Mr. Dionne will have access to the information resources in Blackstone's private equity, corporate debt and real estate groups, according to the firm.

Mr. Dionne was a partner with Bennett Restructuring Fund LP, a US$1 billion hedge fund, where he specialized in public and private investments focused on distressed debt securities of companies in or near bankruptcy. Prior to that he was with Saugatuck Capital, where he managed investments in middle-market buyouts and recapitalizations.

Stephen A. Schwarzman, president and chief executive of the Blackstone Group, said in a statement, "Blackstone has always been committed to being a preeminent player in the areas in which it chooses to compete. John is a proven leader in the distressed investing space and brings with him a superb track record from Bennett. With our established platform, utilizing the shared knowledge of our various alternative asset businesses, I am confident that John will achieve a leading position for Blackstone in this asset class."

Mr. Dionne added, "I am very excited to be joining an acknowledged leader in the alternative asset arena and to be working with such a quality team of professionals. Over the past 20 years the distressed asset class has produced extremely attractive returns and we are confident that this is an opportune time to be entering this business with back-to-back record years of high yield issuance, record leverage levels and the prospect of significantly higher default rates in the future. My historical focus on investments in smaller, less efficiently traded debt securities will offer diversification from traditional distressed investing with an emphasis on larger capitalization issues."

Jim Bennett, managing partner of Bennett Restructuring Fund LP, said: "Although we regret John's departure, we wish him well in his exciting new career opportunity leading Blackstone's initiative in the distressed area."

Contact Bob Keane with questions or comments at: bkeane@investmentadvisor.com.

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