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A Second Act for a Top Wall Street Strategist

NYTimes – J. Tomilson Hill was a well-known Wall Street deal maker in the 1980s, a skilled merger tactician whose work on the bidding war for RJR Nabisco earned him a role in the book “Barbarians at the Gate,” which memorably said he came across to enemies as “an oiled-back Gordon Gekko haircut atop 5 feet, 10 inches of icy Protestant reserve.”

But in 1993, Mr. Hill’s climb up the ladder at Lehman Brothers ended when he was ousted as co-chief executive, and he spent the next seven years of his career in less prominent roles at the Blackstone Group, the private equity firm.

But Mr. Hill has reinvented himself by applying his deal-making skills to a different business. Since 2000, he has taken Blackstone’s hedge-fund-of-funds business from barely a blip on the radar screen to the No. 1 spot. Its $53 billion in assets are more than double its nearest competitor’s.

At a presentation for analysts in May 2012, Mr. Hill described his business as “the largest investor in hedge funds in the world.” A typical Blackstone fund may be subdivided among a dozen or more hedge fund managers, like William A. Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management, Paul Singer of Elliott Associates or Andrew Hall, the former Citigroup oil trader. Mr. Hill has succeeded not by posting titanic returns but by offering the funds to institutions like public pension funds as a safer alternative to stocks without as much volatility. Its $8 billion flagship Blackstone Partners Offshore Fund returned 6.3 percent annually from 2000 through 2012, according a Blackstone presentation in mid-2013 obtained from another investor.

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