Sunday, September 12, 2021

Twenty Years' Growth of Carlyle Group AUM Post 9-11

The Carlyle Group annual investor meeting was underway when Al Qaeda attacked the United States on 9-11-2001.  

Former President George H. W. Bush, along with former First Lady Barbara Bush, leaves Washington, DC, by private jet, bound for a speaking engagement in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Bushes spent the previous night at the White House. They had flown to Washington the previous day to attend several meetings and a dinner. One of the meetings attended by the former president was the annual investor conference of the Carlyle Group, which was also attended by Shafig bin Laden, one of Osama bin Laden’s brothers (see (9:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). 

Members of the Saudi super-wealthy Bin Ladin family left once U.S. airspace reopened.

Nine chartered flights with 160 people, mostly Saudi nationals, departed from the United States between September 14 and 24. 9-13-2001 via private jet.

For example, one flight, the so-called Bin Ladin flight, departed the United States on September 20 with 26 passengers, most of them relatives of Usama Bin Ladin. 

The Carlyle Group's assets under management in June 2001 stood at $13 billion.  Today Carlyle has an AUM of $276 billion.   That's growth of over 2,100%.  Carlyle went from stakes in dozens of companies to thousands as private equity underwriters became ubiquitous.

The Guardian revealed former politicians that would help grow Carlyle's AUM so greatly:

The more business-oriented activities of Carlyle's staff have been conducted much more quietly: since it was founded in 1987 by David Rubenstein, a policy assistant in Jimmy Carter's administration, and two lawyer friends, the firm has been dispatching an array of former world leaders on a series of strategic networking trips.

Last year, George Bush Sr and John Major traveled to Riyadh to talk with senior Saudi businessmen. In September 2000, Carlyle hired speakers including Colin Powell and AOL Time Warner chair Steve Case to address an extravagant party at Washington's Monarch Hotel. Months later, Major joined James Baker for a function at the Lanesborough Hotel in London, to explain the Florida election controversy to the wealthy attendees.

Private Equity International added more key hires the summer of 2001.

William Kennard, the former chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will join The Carlyle Group as managing director for media and communications.  Earlier this week it hired Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as senior advisor.  And last month, Afsaneh Beschloss, former treasurer and chief investment officer at the World Bank, also joined up.
Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein went from a wonky former presidential advisor to policy making billionaire. 

The Guardian highlighted concerns shortly after 9-11:

"It should be a deep cause for concern that a closely held company like Carlyle can simultaneously have directors and advisers that are doing business and making money and also advising the president of the United States," says Peter Eisner, managing director of the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit-making Washington think-tank. "The problem comes when private business and public policy blend together. What hat is former president Bush wearing when he tells Crown Prince Abdullah not to worry about US policy in the Middle East? What hat does he use when he deals with South Korea, and causes policy changes there? Or when James Baker helps argue the presidential election in the younger Bush's favour? It's a kitchen-cabinet situation, and the informality involved is precisely a mark of Carlyle's success."

The world of private equity is an inherently secretive one. Firms such as Carlyle make most of their money buying firms which are not publicly traded, overhauling them and selling them at a profit, so the process by which likely targets are evaluated is much more confidential than on the open market.

Rubenstein has ready access to U.S. Presidents and recently revealed he hosts elected officials.

The U.S. remembered 9-11 through a series of events.

“It’s hard because you hoped that this would just be a different time and a different world. But sometimes history starts to repeat itself and not in the best of ways,” Thea Trinidad, who lost her father in the attacks, said before reading victims’ names at the ceremony. 

Carlyle affiliate Landmark Aviation provided rendition flights to CIA black sites. That's but one way Carlyle influenced government policy and used Uncle Sam's wallet to handsomely profit since 9-11-2001.  It's the stuff of nightmares.