Carlyle Group: the billion-dollar buyout barons

Each week Arabian Business turns the spotlight on a leading company.
By Administrator
Sun 08 Jul 2007 12:00 AM

Some people might liken private equity companies to a swarm of locusts...

Take it easy - I think they'd prefer to be known as companies that take over failing concerns, and make them work. Carlyle Group is a private equity company with more than US$58.5bn of equity capital under management. Based on four fund families it focuses on leveraged buyouts, venture and growth capital, real estate and leveraged finance investments.

Private equity is really taking off at the moment, and Carlyle seems to be doing a deal a minute...

Yes, they have sealed a string of multibillion dollar deals. They recently acquired Manor Care, a nursing home operator for US$6.3bn.

They also teamed up with two private equity firms to buy Home Depot's supply arm for US$10.3bn and in a joint bid with Canadian investment firm Onex, bought General Motors' Allison Transmission unit for US$5.6bn. All the focus is now on Virgin Media.

Virgin Media? The cable company? That's a new one.

It's been rumoured Carlyle has bid US$11.5bn, but Virgin Media is keeping quiet - the cable giant has revealed that it has received an offer, but is not confirming any details.

The group will make a high level of return if it goes ahead, because Virgin's shares are listed in the UK rather than the US, and it has been struggling since its inauguration five months ago. If the deal proves to be successful, it will be the second largest private equity takeover of a British firm, after high street chemists Boots Alliance, which was bought by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts last year.

So I guess Richard Branson is involved in all of this?

Branson is the largest shareholder in Virgin Media, it is thought he'll keep a stake in the business if it is sold. Carlyle won't get star-struck, though - it has had plenty of dealings with high-profile individuals, and based most of its early business on contacts in the US government and Pentagon.

Following the 9/11 attacks it was revealed that the Bin Laden family also held a stake in the giant company.

And in the Middle East?

Equity firms are now taking notice of the growing Middle East market and Carlyle Group opened in DIFC last November.

The team is headed by managing director Walid Musallam, former CEO of the Abu Dhabi Investment Company.

At the time, Carlyle founding member David Rubenstein claimed that the region could become the fourth most important private equity centre in the world.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.