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Carlyle Group plans $100m float

Private equity firm Carlyle files IPO notice with the Securities and Exchange Commission

Secretive is the adjective most often used to describe Carlyle Group, the politically well-connected private equity firm that claims presidents and prime ministers among its advisers. Now it is going public, opening its books to outside scrutiny for the first time in its 24-year history.

The investment firm has filed a notice with the US financial watchdog the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in preparation for a 0m (£63m) initial public offering.

At present, details are sketchy – even the 0m figure is likely to change – and no date has been set for the sale, although a road show is planned for later this year to put the case for a float to investors. Carlyle, which manages assets of about 3bn, will use the proceeds to repay debt, for general corporate purposes and for expansion in territories including China and Latin America, according to the filing.

The firm’s three co-founders, believed to own about 50% of their partnership, will remain at the top of the public company: David Rubenstein and William Conway will be co-chief executives, while Daniel D’Aniello will become chairman.

Carlyle was founded in 1987 and named after the luxurious New York hotel favoured by the trio. Having made a fortune in the defence industry, the firm has since broadened its investment portfolios to participate in the buyouts of a number of big American companies, including Hertz, the car rental group, and Dunkin’ Brands, owner of Dunkin’ Donuts.

President George H W Bush, his secretary of state James Baker and Britain’s former prime minister Sir John Major have all been employed as advisers by the firm. Michael Moore attacked Carlyle in his 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, linking it to both the Bin Laden and the Bush families.

Carlyle’s move follows similar share sales by two other major private equity rivals, Blackstone Group and Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts. The flotation will provide a big payday for Carlyle’s founders and their investors, including Mubadala, an investment arm of the Abu Dhabi government, and Calpers, the giant California pension fund.

Washington-based Carlyle reported .8bn in revenue last year and, using economic net income – a pro forma accounting figure preferred by private equity firms – earned just over bn. By comparison, Blackstone last year reported .1bn in revenue and 5.5m in economic net income.

According to Carlyle’s filing, the firm employs 1,100 people, including more than 500 investment professionals, in 34 offices across six continents. So far 2011 has been a good year for Carlyle, with the flotations of both Dunkin’ Brands and the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

In 2009 Carlyle reached a m settlement with Andrew Cuomo, then New York attorney general, to end an inquiry into allegations that it had paid well-connected executives to secure investments from New York state’s huge pension fund.

As part of the settlement the company pledged not to hire politically connected middlemen to secure pension fund business.

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