The Blackstone Group has poached Ed Huang from Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia (MSPEA), as the US alternatives giant looks to ramp up its deal activity in China.

Huang is understood to have started work at Blackstone last week as a managing director for China. According to a source, Huang has not been replaced at MSPEA, where he served as a managing director focusing on China investments. He joined Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong in 2003, initially working in the investment banking division, before joining the MSPEA team in 2007.

Huang had served on the boards of several MSPEA’s mainland portfolio companies, including China XD Plastics, Sihuan Pharmaceutical, China Flooring Holding and CIMIC Industrial Group.

At Blackstone, Huang joins Yi Luo, another recent executive China appointment who joined from Carlyle Group in September 2011 and now serves as a senior managing director based in Shanghai.

Blackstone and Morgan Stanley declined to comment on Huang's appointment.

Blackstone is bulking up its Greater China team, having earmarked the mainland as a target market for private equity deals. The firm has been establishing government ties over the past few years to help in its endeavour.

Blackstone counts China Investment Corp (CIC) as a minority shareholder, with the sovereign wealth fund having invested $3 billion in the firm for a minority stake 2007. CIC has subsequently co-invested with Blackstone on several deals, both in China and overseas.

More recently, Blackstone has partnered with the Pudong district government to raise a Rmb5 billion yuan-denominated fund that will invest in firms based in the Shanghai Pudong New Area. 

A first close for the Shanghai Blackstone Equity Investment Partnership fund was held in April 2011, having raised money from Chinese government entities, state-owned enterprises and large domestic corporations. While the amount of capital was not disclosed, Blackstone has acknowledged that about Rmb2.5 billion had been raised as of September last year.

Unlike other large private equity firms, Blackstone does not have an Asia-focused fund and has instead invested in the region through its global vehicles. The firm has no shortage of capital to invest in Asia, having last month closed one of the largest private equity funds in history, the $16 billion Blackstone Capital Partners VI.