Carlyle brings in Dutch advisor

The Carlyle Group has appointed Cees van Lede, former chairman of Akzo Nobel, to the advisory board of its E1bn European buyout fund.

Cees van Lede, CEO and chairman of pharmaceuticals, coatings and chemicals group Akzo Nobel from 1994 to May 2003, has joined the already star-studded advisory board of US private equity firm The Carlyle Group’s E1bn Carlyle Europe Partners (CEP).

Van Lede will be advising the firm primarily on its investment activities in the Netherlands. In a statement, Christopher Finn, London-based managing director of Carlyle, commented: “[Van Lede] is a prominent and well-respected member of the Dutch industrial community and will be of enormous value for us”.

While still a member of Akzo Nobel’s supervisory board, van Lede also chairs the supervisory board of De Nederlandsche Bank, Holland’s central bank. He also sits on the boards of European industrial groups Scania, Heineken, Sara Lee, Philips Electronics, L’Air Liquide and Reed Elsevier.

Van Lede is no stranger to the private equity business. In December 1999, Akzo Nobel sold its specialty fibre division Acordis to European buyout firm CVC Capital Partners. CVC later attempted to merge Acordis with Austrian competitor Lenzing, which prompted the European Commission to intervene and ultimately bar the deal citing competition-related concerns.

Carlyle, since launching CEP in 1998, has built a portfolio of 20 investee companies in Europe. In December 2002, the fund invested in the E700m acquisition of Casema, the Dutch Cable concern sold by France Telecom. To buy Casema, Carlyle had teamed with Providence Equity Partners and GMT Communications.

According to a spokesperson at Carlyle, CEP is now 90 per cent invested. The firm is currently at an early stage of an effort to raise a successor fund. The target for a second European buyout fund is thought to be E2bn. 

Van Lede’s appointment takes the number of advisors on CEP’s board to 16. He is joining a cast of prominent individuals including former UK Prime Minister and Carlyle’s Chairman in Europe John Major; former US Secretary of State James Baker; ex-Hoffman-La Roche CEO Fritz Gerber; Eberhard von Kuenheim, former CEO of BMW; and Reto Domeniconi, former CEO of Nestlé.

Carlyle has made it its trademark to support fund investment professionals through advisory boards staffed with high profile members of the global political and business elites. The firm does not disclose how these individuals are compensated.

In addition to the buyout fund, Carlyle also runs a European venture capital investment operation, which is currently investing the E650m Carlyle Europe Venture Partners fund, launched in 1999.

Worldwide, the firm has currently some $16bn in assets under management, making it one of the most prolific asset gatherers in the private equity industry.