Thursday, April 9, 2009

WEC Seating Chart Instructive

Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein lobbed questions at the senior White House Economic Adviser Larry Summers at the Washington Economic Club. While Larry Summers offered the U.S. Chamber of Commerce case for health care reform, an interesting group shared a table near the front. Two diplomats from the United Arab Emirates sat with TARP implementer Neil Kashkari. Treasury's public-private partnerships want to leverage private money. Foreign sovereign wealth funds (SWF's) are a likely source. The UAE has the largest SWF in the world.

What about other ties? Carlyle's Rubenstein ran over to greet the UAE officials before the program began. The Carlyle Group sold two affiliates, Landmark Aviation and Standard Aero, to Dubai Aerospace in summer 2007. The deal stayed hush-hush, even though it occurred between the Dubai Ports World brouhaha and the NASDAQ-Bourse uproar.

The CFIUS process was overseen by Kashkari's old boss, Hank Paulson. Washington politicians, Senators Chuck Schumer and Joe Lieberman, supported the sale. So how will our elected leaders sell out to foreign big money interests, fat from American fuel profits? Rumor has the UAE interested in buying Textron, a huge defense contractor.

Carlyle's ties run deeper. The huge private equity underwriter (PEU) is 7.5 percent owned by the Abu Dhabi government. Mubadala Development Company paid $1.35 billion for a Carlyle chunk. No wonder David Rubenstein and Neil Kashkari lavished attention on their wealthy guests. Just don't sell them the Brooklyn Bridge.