Messenger moves

Two senior communicators from Blackstone and Warburg Pincus, respectively, have departed

As mass back office cuts roil the industry, two of the top communications professionals at brand-name private equity firms have departed. The Blackstone Group's John Ford will leave the firm following cost cutting staff reductions, and Warburg Pincus has con-firmed that Julie Johnson Staples is moving on.

Ford was a senior vice president in the corporate communications and public relations group at Blackstone. He joined the firm in 2000, and was responsible for media relations, advertising and internal and external corporate communications across all of the firm's business groups. Before joining Blackstone, he spent six years with JP Morgan: three of them in Brussels with Euroclear, and three in London as vice president and head of corporate communications for the bank's European operations. His career also included two years as director of marketing with an alternative asset group in Connecticut, two years as head of global media relations with an international rating agency in New York and 10 years running an international investor relations consultancy in Europe.

Johnson Staples was a managing director at Warburg, responsible for the firm's global marketing and strategic communications activities. Previously, she was an executive managing director of Manhattan public relations firm Hill and Knowlton's US media practice. Prior to that, she was a correspondent for ABC News and TIME Magazine, and also covered the Reagan Administration for The New York Times and The Baltimore Sun.

China vetoes Starr fund
China's CITIC Securities will raise its own RMB 6 billion (€675 million; $873 million) fund after the Chinese government rejected plans for a private equity fund backed by Starr International and CITIC. The Maurice Greenberg-led global investment firm and CITIC Securities had planned to launch a 50-50 joint venture fund with an initial fund size of RMB1 billion, but the China Securities Regulatory Commission rejected the proposal as it did not want to set a precedent for other foreign private equity firms to follow. The joint venture would have been the first private equity fund launched in partnership between a foreign firm and a domestic brokerage. Instead CITIC Securities is being allowed to set up its own private equity funds management company, CITIC Private Equity Funds Management, to raise its first private equity fund. CITIC Group's alternative investments arm CITIC Capital already manages separate private equity funds focused on China, Japan and the US, and is currently raising $500 million for its second China-focused private equity real estate fund.

CCMP Asia to be renamed Unitas Capital
CCMP Capital Asia, which spun out of JPMorgan Partners three years ago, will be known as Unitas Capital from 30 January 2009 when it ends its affiliation with fellow JPMorgan spin-out CCMP Capital Advisors. The two groups have maintained an association over the past three years, but have kept operations and fundraising activities separate in their respective regions. CCMP Capital Asia Opportunity Fund III recently held a final close on $1.2 billion, short of the initial target of $2.5 billion set when the fund launched in April 2007. Returning investors in the fund included Goldman Sachs Private Equity Partners Asia, Ohio Public Employees' Retirement System, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, Pantheon Ventures, Partners Group, SEB, State of Michigan Retirement System, The State of Oregon and Washington State Investment Board.

GMAC nixed on bank holding company
Cerberus Capital Management portfolio company GMAC Financial Services has been unable to meet the regulatory capital requirement of $30 billion necessary for approval of its application for bank holding company status. The company in November launched private exchange offers and cash tenders for $38 billion of outstanding GMAC and ResCap debt, with the goal of restructuring its debt and attempting to become a bank holding company on 30 October. However, only 22 percent of GMAC notes and 21 percent of ResCap notes have been tendered, totalling $8.3 billion in aggregate. In order to reach the minimum capital requirements for bank holding company status, GMAC requires roughly 75 percent participation in its offers. In 2006, a Cerberus-led consortium purchased 51 percent of GMAC for $14 billion, with $6 billion coming from the New York-based firm's own funds. The mortgage and auto lender, formerly the financing wing of General Motors, has been severely hit by the subprime mortgage crisis and general credit market turbulence.