TPG's CEO Coulter Says He's on the Fence About Possible IPO

  • Jim Coulter spoke in interview with Bloomberg TV's Emily Chang
  • Said investing in technology means you expect volatility

Jim Coulter, the co-founder and co-chief executive officer of alternative-asset manager TPG, said that he would see how “things evolve” before deciding whether to take the company public.

Coulter, 56, said that selling shares to the public will depend on whether such a move is “strategically important for the business,” in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Emily Chang at the SuperInvestor U.S. conference in San Francisco Wednesday. He also expressed sympathy with technology groups looking to raise capital publicly rather than from private investors.

“Being public is a financing decision not a business decision,” he said. “It’s a pain.”

TPG, which manages about $70 billion in assets, has been steadily diversifying its business away from buyouts into areas including credit and special situations in recent years as it contemplates going public. The company hired former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive Jon Winkelried as co-CEO in October.

TPG founding partner David Bonderman said at a conference in Berlin last year that the firm would consider an IPO.

Coulter was bullish about the prospects of so-called unicorns -- closely held companies that have attracted billion dollar valuations -- comparing their emergence to the development of the U.S. automotive industry at the turn of the last century.

Investment decisions “are about choice,” he said in the interview. “The top 13 percent of companies in Detroit became Chrysler, Ford and GM, if you invested in that percentage group you did very well.”

Coulter, whose funds have investments in home rental site Airbnb Inc. and transport application Uber Technologies Inc., said he is happy with TPG’s portfolio and that investing in technology groups means “you expect volatility.”

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.