Carlyle Promotes Horbach to Co-Lead U.S. Buyout Business

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  • Dealmaker becomes first woman to oversee LBOs at a major firm
  • Horbach takes over role from Holt, who becomes unit’s chairman

Carlyle Group LP named Sandra Horbach as co-head of its U.S. buyout funds, making her the first woman to oversee a major private equity firm’s main business line.

Horbach, who led Carlyle’s consumer and retail team worldwide, will succeed Allan Holt, who will become chairman of the U.S. buyout group, the Washington-based firm said in a statement Thursday. Horbach joins Pete Clare, the unit’s other co-head.

Carlyle, founded in 1987 by Bill Conway, Dan D’Aniello and David Rubenstein, derives almost all of its profits from its global private equity business, which has produced annualized returns after fees of 18 percent. The U.S. funds manage a majority of the private equity business line’s $57.6 billion in assets.

Horbach joined Carlyle in 2005 from private equity firm Forstmann Little & Co. She has led some of its most profitable deals since then, including its investment in Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., which reaped $1.8 billion in profit for the firm and its two private equity partners.

She also orchestrated the purchase of a minority stake in headphone maker Beats Electronics LLC, which Apple Inc. bought in 2014. Horbach’s group spearheaded the purchase of a minority stake in Vogue International LLC, the maker of hair-care products that Johnson & Johnson acquired last week for $3.3 billion.

‘Proven Herself’

Horbach “has proven herself time and again, generating significant value for our investors through her leadership of the consumer and retail team, which she created and built over the past 11 years,” Conway, Carlyle’s chief investment officer, said in the statement.

Jay Sammons, who joined the firm in 2006 and worked on deals including Beats and Vogue, will succeed Horbach as head of the team, Carlyle said.

Carlyle’s current U.S. buyout fund, Carlyle Partners VI, has spent about half of the $13 billion it finished gathering in 2013. The firm will probably start marketing a successor vehicle next year, Rubenstein, Carlyle’s chief fundraiser, said on a Wednesday conference call discussing second-quarter earnings.

Horbach isn’t the only woman to hold a key leadership role at Carlyle in the past decade. Karen Bechtel oversaw its global health-care investments from 2005 until earlier this year, and from 2011 to 2014 the firm’s chief financial officer was Adena Friedman. Its fund-of-funds unit has been led since December by Lauren Dillard.

Women filled 14 percent of managing director roles or higher at Carlyle as of last year, compared with an average 10.9 percent at the 10 biggest private equity firms, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Horbach has taken an active role in promoting women within Carlyle, including organizing lunches and networking events for female employees. She said in a 2012 interview that “mentoring women could be a legacy greater than any deal I’ve ever done.”