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Blackstone vice-chairman nets $8.5 million from sale of shares

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Blackstone Group LP vice chairman J. Tomilson Hill, the head of the firm's fund-of-hedge-funds business, earned $8.5 million last week by selling a portion of his stake in the world's largest alternative asset manager, according to a filing submitted February 26.

Hill, who joined the firm in 1993, sold 450,000 shares in the firm, referred to as common units, at a weighted average price of $19 on February 22. He continued to directly own 1,045,990 common units after the sale, according to the filing.

The move comes approximately two weeks after firm president Tony James sold 3.5 million shares of the company for a profit of $64.2 million.

Blackstone's common units closed at $18.43 Tuesday and are up approximately 19 percent for the year as investors bet that a pickup in deal activity will allow the New York-based company to profitably exit more of its investments and reward shareholders.

The share price has fallen 6 percent since hitting a high of $19.69 on February 19, their highest price since May 2008.

(Reporting By David Randall; Editing by Bernard Orr)