The Carlyle Group has begun a push into central and eastern Europe with the establishment of a new team based in Warsaw, Poland and led by Ryszard Wojtkowski, formerly a partner with Polish private equity firm Enterprise Investors.
Wojtkowski also has extensive corporate and political experience. He has been president of Novartis Consumer Health International in Switzerland, deputy manager of Coca-Cola Poland, president of Gerber Eastern Europe, and was chief of staff to consecutive Polish prime ministers from 1983 to 1991.
The Washington DC-headquartered Carlyle has not yet made any investments in the regions – whose countries include Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Croatia, Serbia and Ukraine – but development of the markets in these countries has attracted the firm’s attention.
“The markets in eastern Europe are maturing, and there are great opportunities there for us,” said Carlyle spokeswoman.
Carlyle eventually hopes to build a team of 10 to 15 professionals to work under Wojtkowski, Thorpe said.
Carlyle’s central and eastern Europe group will seek to make investments of at least €25 million ($34 million) in companies in the comsumer and retail, industrial, IT and media, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and financial services sectors.
Carlyle is not the first global firm to take notice of investment opportunities in the region. AIG Capital Partners has raised nearly €1 billion dedicated to Central and Eastern Europe since 1999, and earlier this month the private equity arm of Franklin Templeton Investments, Darby Overseas Investments, raised a €248 mezzanine fund for the region.