Tripp Smith, Co-Founder of Blackstone's GSO, to Leave Firm

(Bloomberg) -- Tripp Smith, who was instrumental in building out Blackstone Group LP’s biggest business as a co-founder of GSO Capital Partners, is leaving the firm.

Tripp Smith, Co-Founder of Blackstone's GSO, to Leave Firm

The 52-year-old plans to pursue other opportunities but will remain with GSO until the end of June, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg. Blackstone acquired and integrated GSO -- which refers to the last name initials of Bennett Goodman, Smith and Doug Ostrover -- in 2008. The group, which managed about $10 billion at the time, has expanded to oversee $138 billion as of Dec. 31, making it one of the largest credit investors in the world and Blackstone’s biggest business by assets. Ostrover left in 2015.

“After 13 years with GSO, my co‐founder and great friend, Tripp Smith, has decided to leave,” Goodman wrote in the memo. “Tripp has been instrumental in building GSO into one of the largest and most successful credit investment platforms in the world.”

Few other eras in Blackstone’s history have seen such a changing-of-the-guard among the firm’s top ranks. In June, the former head of the firm’s energy debt practice Dwight Scott became president of GSO as the firm paved the way for future management succession.

“Tripp, alongside Bennett and Doug, created one of the pre-eminent private credit platforms in the world,” said David Fann, the chief executive officer of TorreyCove Capital Partners, which advises pension plans that invest in private equity funds. “Blackstone/GSO has institutionalized over the past several years. So, while he will be surely missed, GSO appears to be on solid footing.”

In January, Blackstone said John McCormick would take over management of the hedge fund business as Tom Hill stepped into the role of the group’s chairman. The firm also recently announced it was promoting Jon Gray to president and chief operating officer. Ken Caplan and Kathleen McCarthy were promoted to global co-heads of real estate.

Last year, Smith purchased a stake in English soccer club West Ham United F.C., which faces the risk of relegation from the Premier League this year after a string of poor results.

Credit has been one of the fastest areas of growth for large alternative-asset managers as investors seek exposure to both private markets and yield-based income. The supply of such deals has also increased as banks scaled back, limited by stricter capital requirements and underwriting standards since the financial crisis. Private debt assets have more than tripled since 2007 to $638 billion as of June last year, according to researcher Preqin Ltd.

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