Carlyle picks up fundraising momentum

The firm – whose co-founder Bill Conway called the US the best investment destination at present – has secured $9.4bn in new commitments in 2012, 40% more than in 2011.

The Carlyle Group has raised 40 percent more capital so far this year compared to the whole of 2011. The firm raised $3.4 billion in the last quarter, bringing its total new commitments for the year to $9.4 billion, according to its third quarter earnings statement.

This compares to $6.7 billion raised during all of 2011. Carlyle expects additional new commitments in the fourth quarter, David Rubenstein, co-chief executive officer of Carlyle said during a related earnings call Thursday.

The $3.4 billion in new commitments were made to the firm’s 'carry funds' – which include buyout, growth capital, real asset, distressed debt and mezzanine funds – as well as its hedge funds and new CLO vehicle, Rubenstein said. A final close is expected this year on its mezzanine fund, which will exceed $1 billion in size, he added. Earlier this week, Carlyle’s US mid-market group closed a $1.1 billion fund. “Despite the fact that large parts of the world experienced economic slowdown over the summer”, Carlyle brought in new investors, Rubenstein said.

We remain cautiously optimistic that the combination of very low interest rates, a strengthening housing market and the benefits of significant domestic energy discoveries will provide a catalyst for stronger US economic growth

William Conway

In addition, Carlyle also reported $5.1 billion in carry fund realisations – across 34 funds from 117 investments – in the third quarter. The firm has so far realised $11.9 billion this year. Carlyle also increased the amount of carry fund equity invested from $1.4 billion in the second quarter to $1.6 billion in the third quarter.

While Carlyle named the US, Europe and emerging markets, from Brazil to Turkey to China, as great places to invest right now, William Conway, co-chief executive officer of Carlyle, singled out the US as “the best place in the world to invest”, during the conference call. “We remain cautiously optimistic that the combination of very low interest rates, a strengthening housing market and the benefits of significant domestic energy discoveries will provide a catalyst for stronger US economic growth,” Conway said.

Carlyle was also relatively optimistic about European prospects. “Conditions remain changing, but our recent data are more favourable than what you read about in the headlines. To be clear, we aren’t seen strong evidence of a recovery, but European economies are not falling off the cliff,” he said.

In other news this week, Carlyle abandoned plans to take over UK-listed defence group Chemring. Carlyle had its eyes on the business since August, when it made a “highly preliminary expression of interest”. In October, the UK’s Takeover Panel granted Carlyle a deadline extension until 9 November 2012 to negotiate further with Chemring over a possible take-over bid.

Carlyle declined to comment on why it decided against the offer.