Carlyle Group, one of the early pioneers of the private equity industry, has set a $7bn (£4.4bn) floor on the valuation of the company in its stock market flotation next month.
The buyout giant will begin a roadshow today to potential investors across the US, the Middle East and Europe, but founders' expectations for the success of the share sale have had to be scaled back because of choppy market conditions for private equity shares and questions over the company's corporate governance.
Carlyle, whose portfolio of businesses include Dunkin' Donuts and the Boots chemists chain, said it would sell about 10 per cent of the company – 30.5 million shares at between $23 and $25 per share. Together with an over-allotment option, if the shares are in high demand, that could value the company at between $7bn and $7.6bn. It will list on the Nasdaq market in New York.
Carlyle was founded in 1987 by a group of lawyers and public company finance directors, and is still run by three of their number: David Rubenstein, William Conway and Daniel D'Aniello. The company manages about $147bn in investments, it says.The flotation, plans for which were announced last September, has been controversial. The founders will not give up any control over appointing board members and they do not intend to hold annual shareholder meetings. Shareholders' rights will be governed by Carlyle's partnership agreement, which provides that the board can act at its sole discretion, without a formal stipulation that it must act in good faith.
The firm grew to prominence touting its extensive political and business connections round the world. The former US president George Bush Snr was a longstanding adviser, and the former prime minister John Major was chairman of Carlyle Europe until 2004.