By Henny Sender in New York
Published: September 16 2009 23:37 | Last updated: September 16 2009 23:37
Carlyle has resumed deliberations about a possible public listing, people familiar with the matter say, underscoring the growing confidence of private equity firms as conditions in the financial markets improve.
Any initial public offering by Carlyle would be at least six to nine months away, these people said, and the firm has not reached a decision yet on whether to list its shares. Carlyle said that “nothing substantive” is happening now.
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However, Carlyle’s interest in an IPO has been signalled in recent weeks by its chief financial officer, Peter Nachtwey, a former Deloitte & Touche partner hired in 2007 after he worked on the listing of rival public equity firm Blackstone.
Mr Nachtwey, for instance, has held talks with Blackstone about how it accounts for its holdings now it is a listed company, according to a person familiar with the matter.
“It’s on people’s minds,” another person familiar with the matter said. “But it has a long fuse.”
The head of a group that works with private equity firms at a leading investment bank said Carlyle is “definitely thinking about it [a public listing]”.
The banker said Carlyle’s discussions had been influenced by Blackstone’s $600m bond offer in August. The terms of the deal – seen by market participants as attractive – derived in part from Blackstone’s status as a public company.
“Everyone [in the private equity world] is worried about the risk of falling behind,” said a banker who works with private equity groups.
The merits of going public have been hotly debated within large private equity firms generally and Carlyle particularly. David Rubenstein, one of Carlyle’s founding partners, has long been an advocate of listing, believing it would give the firm greater stability.
But three years ago, when the private equity firms were at the peak of their power, Mr Rubenstein was unable to convince many of his partners of the wisdom of such a move. Eventually, Carlyle raised capital by selling a small stake to Mubadala, an investment arm of Abu Dhabi.
A Carlyle public offer would be different than one for most other private equity firms because of its smaller number of general partners. With about 900 people, Carlyle has a larger infrastructure and more expensive cost base than most other private equity rivals who might be considering a publicly listing.