Blackstone has expanded its Asia-Pacific presence by opening its second office in the region. It has selected Hong Kong as the location for this office. In a statement that suggests its major ambitions, the office will be co-headed by the Hong Kong SAR's former financial secretary (a role that equates to finance minister in other jurisdictions).

Stephen Schwarzman, Blackstone chairman, CEO and co-founder, says, ôWe believe that significant foreign direct investment in the Chinese economy is vital to its continued growth and development and look forward to playing an integral role in that process, not only in China, but throughout the Asia-Pacific region.ö

BlackstoneÆs Hong Kong office will be co-headed by Ben Jenkins and Antony Leung. Jenkins is a senior managing director with Blackstone. He will relocate to Hong Kong from New York with a team. Jenkins joined Blackstone in 1999 and has led the firmÆs investments in Global Tower and Gold Toe-Moretz.

Leung has over three decades of financial services and public sector experience. He was financial secretary of Hong Kong from 2001-03 and has also held positions at JPMorgan and Citigroup in Asia.

Jenkins says: ôAsia-Pacific is the most dynamic region in the world and the one that will have the most impact on the global economy in our lifetime. Our strategy of partnering with industry leading companies and management teams can be as successful in Asia as it has been in the US and Europe.ö

Blackstone opened its first Asia office in Mumbai in 2005, followed by a satellite office in Hong Kong last year to support the firmÆs fund-of-hedge-fund operations. Blackstone has invested in more then 100 companies worldwide with a total enterprise value of all transactions, as of June 30, 2006, of over $158 billion. Its investments take the form of traditional buyouts, growth equity as well as ôcorporate partnership transactionsö.

In India intense competition among private equity players has resulted in Blackstone closing one deal to date, a $50 million investment in Pune-based Emcure Pharmaceuticals. Blackstone is reported to currently be in an advanced stage of discussion with Hyderabad-based Ramoji Group to invest $150 million in Ushodaya Enterprises.

The Hong Kong office will focus on sourcing private equity deals and may also assist Blackstone portfolio companies in entering or expanding in the region.