Saturday, March 12, 2011

Carlyle Group's Social Networking with Gadhafi

Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein courted Libyan oil money after Colonel Gadhafi established the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), a sovereign wealth fund currently valued at $60bn-$80bn.  Chronicle Herald reported:

The investment authority was established in 2006, just as Libya, and Gadhafi in particular, were making a concerted attempt to rejoin the community of nations. 

What role did Rubenstein play in legitimizing Gadhafi's efforts in the global financial community?  FT reported:

Carlyle was one of the first to receive money from the fund, in part due to the efforts of its chief, David Rubenstein, who first travelled to Tripoli in 2006.

A year later Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the Libyan leader, flew to the US to meet prominent financial executives. Frank Carlucci, former defence secretary and retired chairman of Carlyle, hosted a dinner for him in a private room at the City Club.
FT makes this dinner sound like it occurred in 2007, the same year Frances Townsend had a bizarre visit to Gadhafi's Tripoli compound on behalf of the White House.  Carlyle hosted a 2008 event at The Washington Club, with diplomats and Carlyle big wigs in attendance.   In 2009 David Rubenstein and fellow PEU Stephen Schwarzman flew to Tripoli for the wedding of LIA's Deputy Chief Executive.

The record of social contact and business deals is clear.  Yet, NPR missed the FT source.   Did they not consider FT credible, as it is 3% owned by the LIA?  NPR pushed Carlyle's obfuscation:

Officials of the politically connected private equity firm The Carlyle Group have had meetings with Libyan officials, including one of Gadhafi's sons. It's not clear whether they ultimately did business. Carlyle's managing director, David Rubenstein, said this week that Moammar Gadhafi himself was not an investor.
Will anyone tweet Rubenstein's line?   Why did he not speak to LIA's stake in Carlyle investments?

Christopher W. Ullman of Carlyle said that the company did not comment on the identity of its investors.
Rubenstein continued his social networking on financial reform.  Carlyle and the PEU trade group spun Congress.  The Doddo Bill hardly touched private equity and completely missed sovereign wealth funds. 

The White House celebrated the bill with Rubenstein.  It was a fairly standard pep rally.  There's little chance the club will use social media.  Code talk works better face to face.

Update 3-13-11:  During his time as President of the African Union 2009-2010, Gadhafi pushed for it to become an economic union, like the European Union or the Gulf Cooperation Council.   FT reported Carlyle will launch a $750 million Africa fund.  This came after a $500 million capital injection from Mubadala Development Authority, a UAE sovereign wealth fund that partners with Carlyle on the Middle East and North Africa.  Oddly, Larry Fink of BlackRock recently noted, "Markets like totalitarian governments."   How will these forces interact?