Carlyle Group, the second-biggest U.S. private-equity firm, will seek a valuation of $7.5 billion to $8 billion in its initial public offering, according to people with knowledge of its plans.
Carlyle plans to sell a stake of about 10 percent in the IPO and will start marketing the deal to investors as early as next week, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The Washington-based firm, which has been gauging public interest since last year, is targeting its share sale in early May, said another person.
At $8 billion, Carlyle would fetch less than half the market value of Blackstone Group LP (BX), the world’s largest private-equity firm, which has led an industry push into hedge funds and real estate to reduce its reliance on buyouts. Carlyle had initially sought to convince analysts it deserved a valuation comparable to Blackstone’s because its steadier earnings would provide investors with a more stable dividend than most peers’, people briefed on the matter said last year.
“The strategy in these cases often is to initially go out at a valuation that they think is very doable and then plan to, if there’s demand at that valuation, walk up the price,” Steven Kaplan, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, said in a telephone interview. “They view that psychologically as creating positive momentum for trading.”
Chris Ullman, a spokesman for Carlyle, declined to comment.
Carlyle has $147 billion under management, according to the IPO prospectus, and Blackstone had $166 billion as of Dec. 31, its filings show. Co-founded in 1987 by David Rubenstein, William Conway and Daniel D’Aniello, Carlyle would be at least the fifth buyout firm to go public since Fortress Investment Group LLC (FIG) in 2007.
The amount Carlyle is seeking is as much as 25 percent less than the $10 billion implied valuation the firm used when selling debt to Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co. in December 2010. The difference in part reflects the firm’s desire to attract investors with a price sweetener known as an IPO discount, said the people, who asked not to be named because the information is private.
At the end of last year, Carlyle had an implied enterprise value of about $9.4 billion, according to a regulatory filing yesterday. The amount was based on fair value estimates of equity interests tied to Carlyle’s 2010 purchase of a majority stake in hedge-fund manager Claren Road Asset Management LLC. Enterprise value calculations include debt as well as market capitalization.
Blackstone, which went public at a market value of $33.5 billion in 2007, has since shrunk by half. The stock has risen 4.4 percent this year. KKR (KKR) & Co., which gained a New York listing by combining with its publicly traded European fund and moving the company to the NYSE from Amsterdam in July 2010, has climbed 32 percent since then.
“We’re sort of a leveraged play on growth,” Blackstone Chairman Stephen Schwarzman said yesterday at a Captains of Industry event in New York. “When the economy is not as robust, when people are worried about the economy all the time, they get less optimistic about us and about themselves.”
Carlyle, which has been weighing a public offering since 2007 and put those plans on hold because of the global financial crisis, may delay the roadshow if investors aren’t receptive to Oaktree Capital Group LLC’s IPO, scheduled for today, and if the stock market continues to decline, said one of the people. The Standard & Poor’s 500 (SPX) Index fell for a fifth straight day yesterday, its longest losing streak since November.
Oaktree, the world’s largest distressed-debt investor, is seeking to raise as much as $517.5 million, offering 11.3 million shares at $43 to $46 each. Chairman Howard Marks and President Bruce Karsh, two of Oaktree’s co-founders, are set to get almost 40 percent of the proceeds from the firm’s share sale.
Carlyle’s assets under management have more than tripled since 2006. The 25-year-old firm and rivals such as Blackstone and KKR are lowering fees or offering deals as they vie for investors for their buyout funds.
They’re also diversifying. Blackstone has expanded into hedge funds, a business that grew to $40.5 billion at the end of last year.
Carlyle’s revenue rose 1.7 percent to $2.85 billion last year, according to a regulatory filing dated March 14. Net income fell 11 percent to $1.36 billion from a year earlier.
The firm said yesterday that its carry funds gained 9 percent in the first quarter. Carlyle’s corporate private-equity funds, which include buyout and growth funds, rose 8 percent, while its energy funds climbed 14 percent and its real estate and infrastructure funds grew 6 percent. The firm’s global market strategies segment advanced 12 percent, Carlyle said in a filing.
Carlyle’s owners, unlike Oaktree’s, have no plans to sell stock in the IPO, a person briefed on the plans said earlier yesterday. The owners paid themselves a $398.5 million dividend in December 2010, nine months before the firm filed to go public, by borrowing $500 million from Mubadala. Carlyle repaid the remaining balance to Mubadala last month, refinancing it with new debt, according to a regulatory filing. The firm’s three founders earned a combined $413 million last year, mainly from distributions.
Carlyle’s stock will trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol CG. Carlyle hasn’t set a price range or the number of shares it plans to offer.
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