April 25, 2012 / 11:36 PM / in 6 years

Carlyle ramps up IPO marketing with New York blitz

NEW YORK, April 25 (Reuters) - Carlyle Group LP ramped up efforts to market its shares to investors on Wednesday ahead of a planned initial public offering, with its founders trying to differentiate the private equity giant from rivals such as Blackstone Group and KKR & Co LP.

In an unusual move, the private equity firm brought out all three of its founders to a road show in New York to tout its IPO, one of the largest this year besides social media network Facebook’s debut expected in May.

Carlyle is looking to raise $701.5 million to $762.5 million as it goes public, valuing the company at as much as $7.61 billion. Pricing for the IPO is expected on May 2.

Carlyle founders William Conway, Daniel D‘Aniello and David Rubenstein were joined at the event at the landmark Plaza Hotel by COO Glenn Youngkin and CFO Adena Friedman, as well as the firm’s top dealmakers, in a major U.S. effort by the private equity firm during its 2-week global marketing blitz.

Carlyle’s greatest challenge has been to persuade investors that its stock will fare better than those of Blackstone, KKR and Apollo Global Management LLC. Investors often find the financials of alternative asset managers too complex to understand.

Blackstone’s shares are down more than 57 percent since its IPO in 2007, the heyday of leveraged buyouts. Sentiment in publicly listed asset managers soured earlier this month when Oaktree Capital Group LLC sold fewer shares than planned and its shares have traded down since their debut.

One fund manager said he left the Carlyle event convinced that it was at least worth spending more time researching the company.

“I went in skeptical but they put on a good presentation and Rubenstein made a pretty good case of why it’s an interesting proposition, and for me it warrants doing more work,” said the manager of $500 million in assets. “It’s a compelling story relative to the other asset managers, as it’s larger and more global.”

Investors, including this fund manager, asked not to be identified because they did not want anything they said to affect shares allotted to them in the IPO.

Another investor was more hesitant about the offering.

“Carlyle is cheaper than peers but it’s not dirt cheap or guaranteed to work out,” said the potential investor with $4 billion under management. “I’d say I‘m more positive on it after the road show but I‘m not just listening to what management says and believing that it’s so cheap.”

CELEBRITY GUEST

The event marked the halfway point in Carlyle’s 2-week road show around the globe, following stops that included Frankfurt, Milan, Paris, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Besides the founders, Carlyle also brought in a celebrity guest, JPMorgan Chase & Co Vice Chairman Jimmy Lee, to sing the praises of its IPO.

Lee, who made his name arranging loans to buyout firms as they became major powers on Wall Street, told a crowd of more than 150 investors, analysts and bankers that Carlyle’s best days are yet to come, people who attended the meeting said.

Rubenstein, who as the most public face of Carlyle spent more than 250 days in 2011 traveling to 24 countries, joked at the meeting that Carlyle aimed to be as disruptive in the stock market as it has been in the private equity market, according to another person in attendance.

Rubenstein told investors he hoped Carlyle’s stock would rise after the firm goes public, unlike the selloffs that followed the recent IPOs of its peers, the person said.

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