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Baby steps to IPO: The Carlyle Group touts its citizenship

Jan 10, 2011

The Carlyle Group is among a small group of private equity firms that is expected to go public within the next couple of years, joining already-listed peers like The Blackstone Group (bx) and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (kkr).

I happen to think it will happen later rather than sooner -- probably after both Apollo Global Management and TPG Capital -- but there is no doubt that Carlyle has been diligently putting the pieces in place.

The latest example is Carlyle's release of its inaugural Citizenship Report, a 23-page compendium of the firm's attempts "efforts to incorporate environmental, social and governance considerations into its investment practice and into its own daily operations." Such programs have been underway at Carlyle for several years, but the effort at publicizing them strikes me as an early PR play to counteract the eventual backlash that would accompany a Carlyle IPO (all PE firms face some degree of criticism, but Carlyle has proven to be a particular magnet for vitriol). Were Carlyle not looking toward its public future, then it simply would have sent this report to its private investors, perhaps with "confidential" stamped at the bottom of each page.

Here are some excerpts from the report's opening pages:

In 2008, we sharpened our focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues by developing a set of Guidelines for Responsible Investment... drawing on a variety of existing internationallyrecognized norms, including the U.N. Principles for Responsible Investment and the U.N. Global Compact. The Private Equity Growth Capital Council subsequently adopted a similar set of guidelines. We share these guidelines with a targeted set o four portfolio companies and, where possible, assist them with their ESG activities...

Through a partnership with Environmental Defense Fund, we developed EcoValuScreen,a due diligence tool that identifies operational changes to improve a company’senvironmental footprint and bottom line... We have also becomeincreasingly involved in the communities where we invest around the world by establishing partnerships with global and local service organizations, such as Junior Achievement and Habitat for Humanity. Through these partnerships, our employees teach financial literacy and build homes, among many other volunteer activities. We supplement these activities with an expanded wealth sharing program that leverages the firm’s resources to support charitable causes pursued by ouremployees. We recently launched an innovative partnership with the Robert Toigo Foundation—an organization focused on changing the face of the finance industry—to create new career opportunities for minority MBA graduates.

Here is a copy of the full report:

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