Could Carlyle reunite with the bin Ladens?

May 2, 2011, 11:14 PM UTC

The Carlyle Group obviously isn’t hurting for money, with approximately $110 billion in assets under management. But, in light of today’s events, here’s an idle question:

How much time would have to pass before Carlyle would consider letting the bin Laden family back into its fold?

The bin Ladens — Saudi construction magnates who long ago disowned the now-deceased Osama — once were investors in at least one Carlyle fund, alongside its investments in several other private equity vehicles. Reports put the commitment just north of $2 million.

Following September 11, however, Carlyle came under public pressure to cut ties with the family. not only because it was a U.S. firm and the bin Ladens had become local pariahs, but also because Carlyle was particularly active in the aerospace and defense sectors.

By the end of October 2001, the bin Ladens and Carlyle mutually severed their financial ties.

Chances are this was an irrevocable breakup, and there is little value to either side in trying to mend fences. But time does seem to heal many wounds. After all, George H.W. Bush was once an advisor to Carlyle, and also was vice president when the U.S. bombed Libya in the 1980s. Fast forward a couple decades, and Carlyle accepted an LP commitment from the Libyan Investment Authority (a commitment which I assume has since been frozen)…

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