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Senior Carlyle dealmaker to retire after missing top job

Peter Clare, one of the most senior dealmakers at Carlyle Group who was passed over as a candidate to lead the US buyout group earlier this month, is retiring after over three decades at the group.

Clare, chief investment officer of Carlyle’s $105bn in assets private equity division and a board member of the New York- and Washington-based group, helped build its investment business in Asia and led many of its most successful deals such as aerospace companies United Defense and Avio, and consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton.

Earlier this month, Carlyle hired former Goldman Sachs executive Harvey Schwartz to be its new head. His appointment ended a six-month period of uncertainty after former chief Kewsong Lee resigned following a falling out with co-founders David Rubenstein, William Conway and Daniel D’Aniello.

Clare and Mark Jenkins, head of Carlyle’s credit business, had been the two top internal candidates for the role, the FT previously reported.

In late December, as the search for a new leader continued, Carlyle paid Clare a $4.5mn bonus to continue providing services to its private equity unit into mid 2024. However, Clare could now be required to repay the bonus, according to terms laid out in a securities filing. However, the board will ultimately decide, said one person briefed on the matter.

The departure will add more uncertainty to Carlyle’s private equity unit, which has struggled to raise money for its newest flagship corporate buyouts fund.

On a call the firm hosted a day after Schwartz’s hiring, Clare and Jenkins assured investors in Carlyle funds that they would support the new CEO, the FT reported. Clare will step off Carlyle’s board immediately and leave the firm on April 30.

Clare “played a pivotal role in the growth of our corporate private equity business and has served as a careful steward of our investors’ capital in all investment environments”, said Rubenstein and Conway in a press release.

Carlyle has promoted two veteran dealmakers, Sandra Horbach and Brian Bernasek, as co-heads of private equity operations across the Americas, effective immediately.

The duo have jointly led Carlyle’s US buyout and growth funds since 2021, overseeing the day-to-day investments of the group’s four largest corporate buyout funds.

Horbach is one of the most senior female investors in the private equity industry who founded Carlyle’s consumer and retail-based investment team.

She led some of the group’s most successful deals over the past 15 years, including its takeover of Dunkin Brands, the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts, and its investment in headphone maker Beats, which was later sold to Apple in 2014.

Internally, Horbach would have been a popular choice to become CEO, but she never put her name forward during the search, preferring to focus on investments, people told the FT.

Bernasek has worked in recent years to improve co-ordination of Carlyle’s far flung investment operations. He has also been one of the company’s most active dealmakers during a career spanning more than two decades, focusing on industrial takeovers such as buyouts of automotive supplier Allison Transmission, car rental agency Hertz and HD Supply, a supplier to Home Depot.

Horbach and Bernasek will report to new head Schwartz, who is emphasising a broader collaboration within Carlyle’s investment operations, which have historically struggled to be integrated and weighed on overall profit margins.

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