Blackstone makes senior real estate hire

Former Merrill Lynch property pro Michael Nash has joined Blackstone as a senior managing director in the firm’s real estate group.

The Blackstone Group has hired Michael Nash as a senior managing director in the firm’s real estate group. He will be based in New York.

Nash has spent the past ten years with Merrill Lynch, where he led the firm’s real estate principal investment group in the Americas. At Merrill, he was involved in high yield debt opportunities, including mezzanine, preferred and bridge equity investments, as well as direct equity transactions. Nash previously worked at Barclays Bank, where he worked on the restructuring and resolution of troubled real estate loans, and the Bank of Nova Scotia.

At Blackstone, Nash will be responsible for developing new business initiatives within real estate, which, given his background, might include the firm’s expansion into real estate debt strategies.

Last year, Merrill was a key financing source for several of Blackstone’s large REIT privatizations, including the acquisitions of Trizec and Meristar. In the Trizec deal, for example, Merrill reportedly stepped up to provide a $5 billion (€3.8 billion) bridge to Blackstone in the final round of bidding—a key factor in sealing the transaction.

Since then, however, Merrill’s real estate group has lost key members of its team in addition to Nash. Last year, Tom Saylak, the global head of commercial real estate at Merrill and one of the co-founders of Blackstone’s property arm, left the investment bank—a move motivated, in part, by Merrill’s decision not to launch its own private equity real estate fund.

At Blackstone, Nash will join the firm’s other senior managing directors in the real estate group, including co-heads Jonathan Gray and Chad Pike, as well as Ken Caplan, Frank Cohen, William Stein and Gary Sumers. The real estate team also comprises 13 managing directors and ten principals, according to the firm’s website.

Nash’s appointment follows another hire by Blackstone earlier this week. In preparation for the private equity firm’s upcoming IPO, the firm hired Joan Solotar to the position of senior director of public market activities.