The opening of asset manager Blackstone's office here highlights the growing opportunities in Asia in a difficult global environment, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said yesterday. 

The guest of honour at the opening ceremony of the New York-based company's office here, Mr Tharman noted that in fact, opportunities in Asia are multiplying year after year even as much of the world is grappling with economic uncertainties. 

"Asia is growing. It stumbles from time to time, and those stumbles are extremely useful because they refocus minds, but it's a part of the world that's growing," said Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister. 

Blackstone, the world's largest alternative asset manager, is housing its 35 Singapore-based employees at Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 2.

The firm has been operating in Singapore for about 18 months and staff moved into the new office a few months ago. 

The staff here work across the firm's business groups, including private equity, real estate and tactical opportunities. 

The company has appointed former PricewaterhouseCoopers Singapore executive chairman Gautam Bannerjee as the chairman of Blackstone Singapore. 

He is also a senior adviser to the company, as well as a member of the firm's international advisory board. 

One of Blackstone's four partners in Asia handling real estate has relocated from Japan to Singapore to focus on the local and regional market. 

Blackstone has also established its first treasury centre outside New York here, and will be moving some support functions here. 

Unlike traditional fund managers, which would manage assets such as stocks and bonds, the New York-listed firm manages alternative assets such as private equity funds, real estate funds and credit-focused funds. It has US$248 billion (S$308 billion) in assets under management worldwide. 

Blackstone co-founder and chief executive officer Stephen Schwarzman, who was also present at the opening ceremony, noted that the firm has had a longstanding relationship with Singapore founded on shared ideals such as meritocracy and intellectual integrity. 

"These cultural similarities have made possible the longevity of our partnership built on mutual respect and trust, as our approach to asset management and Singapore's vision for its economy coincide in many ways: we're careful, we're prudent but we put a high premium on performance and innovation," he said. 

"We know that Singapore chooses its investment partners by criteria just as stringent as ours, and accordingly we could not be more honoured to know that we have Singapore's stamp of approval in our work together."

Mr Tharman noted in his speech that the principles that Blackstone applies to its business are also critical for Singapore. 

"I think at the end of the day what's most important to Singapore, just like for Blackstone... is never being stale and repetitive in what we're doing, always being open to ideas, never thinking we've done it when we haven't and that's critical for Singapore.

"Each time we go through a new phase and we've done something which people regard as a bit of an achievement, we must know that we could lose it or others could catch up, which is a good thing, and we've got to move on to something else and do it even better," he said.