Feb 1 (Reuters) – Blackstone Inc (BX.N) said on Wednesday it had blocked withdrawals from its $69 billion real estate income trust (BREIT) in January, as the private equity firm faced a surge in redemption requests from investors looking for cash out. BREIT said it fulfilled redemption requests of about $1.3 billion in January, representing 25% of the approximately $5.3 billion of the total withdrawal requests it had received during the month. The fulfilled withdrawal requests also represents 2% of the net asset value of fund, the firm said. Blackstone began exercising its right to block investor withdrawals from BREIT from November last year after it received a deluge of requests that exceeded a preset 5% of the net asset value of the fund. Redemption requests are expected to remain at an elevated level but will normalize over time as Blackstone works through its backlog, Blackstone President Jonathan Gray had said during an analyst earnings call last week. Shares of Blackstone were down 2.4% to $93.59 in early afternoon trading on Wednesday.Latest UpdatesView 2 more stories Last month, Blackstone announced that the University of California would invest $4 billion in BREIT shares after the firm committed $1 billion to backstop the university’s returns in the fund. The university later increased its investment by another $500 million, bringing the total value of its BREIT shares to $4.5 billion. Meanwhile, Blackstone said on Wednesday that Frank Cohen, BREIT’s chairman and chief executive, would relinquish his role as global head of Blackstone core plus platform to Wesley LePatner, who will retain her position as chief operating officer of BREIT. (This story has been corrected to change gross redemptions to $5.3 billion, instead of $5.5 billion, in paragraph 2) Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Shinjini Ganguli and Diane Craft Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.