BERLIN: Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein is still looking at deals in the Middle East region and the unrest has not yet had an impact on the private equity firm’s portfolio companies there.
Rubenstein said on Tuesday Carlyle has a team in Egypt and is waiting to see what happens in the economy. Carlyle does not have any portfolio investments in the country, he said.
"We’re not rushing out of Egypt, but today is probably not the day to make an investment in Egypt — maybe in a couple of months," Rubenstein said on the sidelines of the annual SuperReturn private equity conference in Berlin.
Across the region, Rubenstein said Carlyle remains active.
"We are still looking at deals, there are a lot of countries that haven’t been affected yet, I think Turkey is in pretty good shape," he said. "I wouldn’t say we have suspended (deals); we are still working on deals."
He said the unrest has not yet impacted Carlyle’s portfolio companies.
"Right now the companies we have are in reasonable shape; we don’t have any portfolio companies in Egypt; so I think we’re OK; our companies in Turkey are OK and our companies in Saudi Arabia are OK," Rubenstein said.
Carlyle has a fund dedicated to investing in the Middle East and North Africa.
Protests against authoritarian leaders have deposed the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt and shaken the Arab world, while Libya has tipped into a political vacuum since the uprising against longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi erupted on Feb. 17.
The United States imposed sanctions on the Libyan government on Friday and said the legitimacy of Gaddafi had been "reduced to zero." The US Treasury said the action would block substantial sums of Libyan money and prevent it being looted by the Gaddafi government.
Rubenstein said that the uncertainty in the Middle East region "clearly isn’t a plus but it isn’t necessarily an overall long term negative; it may make things easier to do in the future."
Asked if Carlyle has any Libyan investors who might be impacted by the US freeze of assets, Rubenstein said: "I don’t have a view on that yet. I don’t know enough to know."
Gaddafi himself was not an investor in Carlyle, Rubenstein said. Asked on the sidelines of the conference if Libyan investors or Gaddafi had invested in Carlyle funds, Rubenstein said: "Mr Gaddafi did not."
Abu Dhabi investment fund Mubadala took a 7.5 percent stake in Carlyle in September 2007.
Rubenstein, who trained as a lawyer and worked in the White House during the Carter administration, co-founded Carlyle in 1987.
Carlyle competes against mammoth rivals which at times have grabbed more of the limelight, such as Blackstone Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Carlyle, which has been considering an initial public offering for years, may file papers this year to go public, a source familiar with the matter has previously said.
Rubenstein declined to comment on this topic at the conference.
The private equity firm has been bulking up its business, with a recent deal to buy Dutch-based private equity fund of funds AlpInvest Partners, Europe’s largest. That followed a deal in December to buy a majority stake in hedge fund Claren Road Asset Management.