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Carlyle may file to go public next year-source

* IPO filing could come late next year

* Unlikely that stock would trade until 2012

NEW YORK, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Private equity firm Carlyle Group [CYL.UL], which has been considering an initial public offering for years, may file papers late next year to go public, a source familiar with the situation said on Monday.

The company would be following rival Blackstone BX.N, which went public in 2007 and KKR KKR.N, which listed on the New York Stock Exchange earlier this year. While an IPO filing could come late next year, it is unlikely that Carlyle's stock would trade until 2012, the source said.

Bloomberg earlier quoted Carlyle’s William Conway as saying the company is gearing up for a public share sale, and cited a source saying it would file IPO papers next year. “There will be significant advantages to having a lot more capital,” it reported Conway as saying.

“We have not made any decisions regarding if or when we might go public,” Chris Ullman, a spokesman for Carlyle told Reuters.

Carlyle has been weighing going public for some time, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this year.

Going public can help private equity firms retain and hire staff, potentially give an exit route for retiring founders and boost the ability to raise money to make acquisitions. (Reporting by Megan Davies, writing by Michael Erman, editing by Dave Zimmerman)