Blackstone taps Nielsen CEO Calhoun to help run its companies

Reuters

NEW YORK, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Blackstone Group LP saidThursday it had hired David Calhoun, chief executive oftelevision ratings company Nielsen Holdings NV, to workwith the bosses of the private equity firm's companies in orderto deliver more value.

Calhoun, who joined Nielsen in 2006 shortly after it wasacquired by a Blackstone-backed consortium, will become head ofBlackstone's private equity portfolio operations and sit on thefirm's management and executive committees. He will be executivechairman at Nielsen beginning in January.

"He is one of the most talented CEOs we have ever workedwith. We are excited to have him help guide our portfoliocompany operations as well as the strategic development ofBlackstone itself," Blackstone co-founder and chief executive,Stephen Schwarzman, said in a statement.

Nielsen's operating income jumped from $800 million at thetime of the leveraged buyout to $1.7 billion in 2012 underCalhoun's leadership, Blackstone said.

KKR & Co LP, which invested in Nielsen alongsideBlackstone, disclosed in its third-quarter earnings that it hasso far made 2.5 times its money on that investment as of the endof September. The private equity consortium, which includesCarlyle Group LP and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, has beengradually selling shares in Nielsen since taking it public in2011.

A Virginia Tech graduate, 56-year-old Calhoun also served as vice chairman of General Electric Co and president andCEO of GE Infrastructure, the company's largest business unit.He sits on the boards of Boeing Co and Caterpillar Inc.

Blackstone, an alternative asset manager with $248.1 billionin assets, had $62.6 billion in private equity holdings as ofthe end of September. Its portfolio companies include SeaWorldEntertainment Inc, Hilton Worldwide Inc and WeatherChannel LLC.

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