Carlyle returns $7.5bn to LPs

The global alternatives group distributed $6.4bn to investors in the first quarter this year, almost as much as the $7.5bn it returned in 2010, according to the David Rubenstein-led firm’s annual report.

The Carlyle Group invested $7 billion across private equity, real assets and global market strategies in 2011 and returned $7.5 billion to investors, according to its annual report. Carlyle has made a fast start in 2011, returning $6.4 billion to limited partners in the first three months of the year.

Private equity accounted for approximately 53 percent of Carlyle’s assets under management as of 31 December, the group said. The technology and business services sector represented the largest sector of investment within the asset class, accounting for 22 percent of Carlyle’s total private equity portfolio as of the end of December, followed by consumer and retail at 18 percent and industrials at 13 percent.

Notable Carlyle investments last year included the acquisition of telecommunications companies CommScope and Syniverse for $3.8 billion and $2.6 billion respectively. Carlyle also expanded its credit operations in 2010 with the purchase of two CLO portfolios. The firm acquired more than $4 billion of CLO and other credit assets from Stanfield Capital Partners and more than $1 billion of CLOs from Mizuho Alternative Investments.

On the exit front, Carlyle sold US healthcare provider MultiPlan for $3.1 billion and European children’s car seat manufacturer Britax Childcare to Nordic Capital for £450 million (€527 million; $717 million).

In Asia, Carlyle, established the RMB-denominated Carlyle Beijing Partners Fund to invest in larger growth companies across China. The firm planted its flag in Peru in March via a partnership with financial services heavyweight Credicorp, and has continued to expand its emerging markets reach, launching a Sub-Saharan investment group earlier this year.

At last month’s annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles, Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein said private equity has changed significantly in the wake of the financial crisis, with everything tending toward smaller sizes, more favourable terms for limited partners and much more focus on emerging markets.

“I think private equity has rebounded and is now beginning to invest again with different rules,” Rubenstein said, speaking on a panel at the conference. “There will be more equity, the funds will be smaller, the deals will be smaller, [there will be] more co-investment activity, the fees will be probably more favourable in many ways to LPs in some other respects, but more money will be put in emerging markets because the growth is much greater there.”

At the end of 2010, Carlyle had $106.6 billion of assets under management across 84 funds.