Carlyle Group CEO Kewsong Lee steps down all of a sudden, shocking executives

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Carlyle Group Inc. mentioned Chief Govt Officer Kewsong Lee stepped down, a setback to the non-public fairness large’s bid to navigate a generational transition throughout a interval of market turbulence. 

Co-Founder Invoice Conway, present non-executive co-chairman, will instantly function interim CEO throughout the seek for a everlasting alternative, the corporate mentioned in a press release late Sunday. 

Lee turned the only boss in September 2020 after an influence tussle that led to co-chief govt Glenn Youngkin leaving. Lee’s exit got here all of a sudden and was a shock to many executives. Along with his five-year employment settlement attributable to expire on the finish of the yr, Lee and board administrators clashed over his contract in current discussions, mentioned an individual conversant in the matter.

Either side agreed to start a seek for a brand new CEO to steer Carlyle in its subsequent section of development, the corporate mentioned. 

Lee has been making an attempt to diversify revenues, make income much less tied to inventory markets’ boom-and-bust cycles and carry the inventory value. Risky markets have made it arduous for buyout companies to take corporations public or promote them at excessive costs. 

In his aggressive makes an attempt to remake the agency, Lee—a former Warburg Pincus dealmaker who joined Carlyle in 2013—made adjustments that at occasions put him at odds with the previous guard. He tried to knit competing factions and restructure groups to make dealmakers work extra intently collectively. He additionally staffed the highest ranks with new faces and tried to shift the Washington-based agency’s energy middle towards New York. 

Shares of Carlyle have dropped 31% this yr, underperforming rivals together with Blackstone Inc. and Apollo Global Management Inc.

Carlyle posted a 34% improve in distributable earnings within the second quarter, because it grew its credit score enterprise and boosted payment streams. Nonetheless, Lee mentioned on the time that the business faces an unsure atmosphere because the Federal Reserve strikes to lift rates of interest and sort out inflation. Valuations might want to reset earlier than deal exercise picks up throughout the business, he mentioned. 

A newly shaped search committee will assist discover a everlasting successor, Carlyle mentioned. The corporate additionally shaped a CEO workplace to help Conway and make a “seamless transition” as soon as a alternative has been recognized. 

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