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Blackstone hires co-head from university for hedge fund unit

BOSTON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Blackstone Group, the world’s biggest hedge fund investor, is bringing in a former endowment chief at Brown University as the co-head of its Blackstone Alternative Asset Management (BAAM) unit.

The company has hired Joe Dowling to join John McCormick who has run the $78 billion hedge fund unit since early 2018, the company confirmed on Monday.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news.

Blackstone’s hedge fund unit backs new hedge funds, invests alongside hedge funds, buys majority stakes in them and offers internally run hedge funds. All businesses have expanded since McCormick was promoted to head the unit.

Performance, however, has been challenged. The hedge fund unit reported an 8.2% gain in 2019, according to internal Blackstone numbers and for 2020, the gain is said to be 5.5%, a person familiar with the numbers said.

The average hedge fund gained 11.6% in 2020, according to Hedge Fund Research data.

Dowling came to Brown as chief investment officer in 2013 and was named chief executive officer of the Investment Office in 2018 when Jane Dietze began overseeing the investment process. Dowling’s ties to Brown run deep as his father, an ophthalmologist, graduated from the university and was a former trustee.

Brown’s $4.7 billion endowment returned 12.1% during the fiscal year that ended in June, handily beating the benchmark Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service which gained 2.6%. Brown’s most recent return topped Harvard and Yale’s returns, long among the top performers in the Ivy League.

Last year, Dowling launched a blank check company with former Brown trustee Barry Sternlicht that is expected to acquire Cano Health.

Gideon Berger, who led the hedge fund unit’s funds-of-funds business, has flagged his plans to leave the company in coming months. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by David Gregorio)

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