Might Carlyle Group Remain Private?

Conventional wisdom is that The Carlyle Group will be the next private equity firm to go public, following Blackstone, KKR and (still in registration) Apollo Management. Such thinking is probably accurate, considering that Carlyle honcho has dropped hints about an IPO off and on for the past several years.

But let me throw out an alternative theory: Carlyle could remain private as a way to stand apart from the herd (or perhaps as a way to stand with TPG and Providence). The “public currency to retain talent” argument for going public has to be a tough sell right now, given the stagnation of BX and KKR stock prices.

The “use stock to add other biz units” also doesn’t seem to apply to Carlyle, whose only real foray outside of private equity was that disastrous credit fund. The only remaining benefit is brand liquidity for Carlyle’s founders, but isn’t it possible that the next generation could pony up a bit of that in exchange for ownership (Rubenstein isn’t the only multi-millionaire in that shop). Again, just thinking aloud…