Blackstone hires heavyweight GE executive for infra team

Steve Bolze is departing GE in October after a 25-year career that led to his role as CEO of the company’s power division.

Blackstone has hired General Electric executive Steve Bolze to a senior management position in the firm’s new infrastructure business.

Bolze, who will leave a 25-year career at GE in October, will head portfolio operations and asset management for Blackstone’s infrastructure platform. The firm said in a statement he will help source potential investments and work with executives of the infrastructure companies Blackstone invests in.

In June, Bolze announced his departure from GE after another senior executive, John Flannery, was chosen as the company’s new chief executive. He has spent 11 years as the chief executive of GE Power, a $28 billion business and GE’s largest division. During his tenure, Bolze oversaw some of the company’s largest deals, including the $14 billion acquisition of Alstom SA’s power business in 2015.

He will report to Sean Klimczak, who has worked on Blackstone’s energy investments since 2005 and was recently chosen to lead the infrastructure business. Klimczak referred to Bolze in a statement as a “world-class operator in the infrastructure sector”.

The two make up what is known so far of Blackstone’s senior leadership for its targeted $40 billion infrastructure fund. Blackstone co-founder Stephen Schwarzman said the firm will make a few key hires, with internal staff making up the rest of the team.

Blackstone was not immediately available to comment.

Blackstone announced in May plans to launch the infrastructure vehicle and received a $20 billion anchor commitment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. The fund will be an open-ended, permanent capital structure that collects fees based on net asset value, the firm’s executives said on a conference call in July.

Fundraising is set to start this autumn, and investments will begin after an expected first close is reached in early 2018.

The Saudi commitment alone is larger than any other infrastructure fund. The scale Blackstone is targeting is in part to invest in US opportunities, where there is a $2 trillion infrastructure financing gap, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

US President Donald Trump has set a goal to mobilise $1 trillion of investments in US infrastructure and has signalled the private sector will be important in meeting that mark.