Carlyle Group May Want (New) U.S. Assets

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein said the private equity firm may be interested in buying some assets that could be acquired by the U.S. government as part of the $700 billion financial crisis bailout effort.

Speaking on CNBC, Rubenstein said Carlyle may be interested in acquiring some mortgage-backed securities and other assets, but he did not cite specific companies.

“Private equity can help by buying these assets,” Rubenstein said. “Private equity can be among the most significant buyers of assets.”

Although Carlyle has looked at emerging markets over the past year, Rubenstein expects to see more money invested in U.S. assets as stock prices and valuations fall.

Rubenstein said he would like to see “some easing” of the rules that oversee minority investment in U.S. banks.

On Monday, the U.S. Federal Reserve issued new guidelines for its treatment of minority bank investments, but said it would continue to treat 25 percent as the threshold triggering Fed regulation.

Still, Carlyle may look at financial investments even under the current restrictions, Rubenstein said. In addition to private equity money, Rubenstein said sovereign wealth funds and international buyers should be encouraged to invest in the United States at this time.

Rubenstein said the $85 billion rescue of American International Groupwas a unique situation and he was unaware of other companies that would require similar moves.

“That’s an umbrella helping AIG,” Rubenstein said. “It was a smart move to keep AIG from bankruptcy.”

As far as the global financial crisis that has triggered the hotly debated $700 billion bailout for the U.S. financial system, Rubenstein said, “I never thought I’d see anything like this and I hope I never see anything like this again.”

He said he hoped Congress would move quickly to approve the package and that President George W. Bush would directly discuss the issue with the American public.

“Clearly, we needed something,” Rubenstein said.

(Reporting by Jessica Hall, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)