After Kewsong Lee’s abrupt resignation in August, Carlyle Group is suddenly back to square one—becoming yet another major U.S. private equity firm in need of a viable succession plan.
Carlyle is on the hunt to find a replacement for its chief executive, as my colleague Luisa Beltran reports for Fortune, and the firm has retained the executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates, to find just the right person for the job.
So who’s on the roster, you may ask? While Carlyle hasn’t made public any of its candidates, my colleague Beltran uncovered some of the internal and external candidates who have their eyes on the job. Here’s what she’s learned:
Several internal executives have thrown their hat into the ring for the CEO spot, a person familiar with the situation said. Names that have arisen include Peter Clare, Carlyle chief investment officer for corporate private equity and chairman of Americas private equity, and Mark Jenkins, head of global credit. Clare has spent about 30 years at Carlyle, holding several positions at the firm including chair of the US buyout and the growth investment committees. Jenkins, meanwhile, joined Carlyle in 2016 from Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, where he was a senior managing director and global head of private investments. Clare and Jenkins are part of a team of executives named to the newly established “Office of the CEO” that is working with William Conway, a Carlyle co-founder and ex-co-CEO, as he serves as interim CEO. (Russell Reynolds declined comment.)
It’s possible that Carlyle—which has long touted its diversity and emphasizes that nearly half of its employees are women—takes the opportunity to hire a woman as its chief executive, Beltran writes. That would set the firm apart from its rivals (all led by men). Sandra Horbach, a Carlyle partner, would make a great choice. From Beltran:
Horbach is known for breaking down barriers in private equity and is considered one of the most powerful women in PE. In 1992, she was named a partner at Forstmann Little, becoming the first woman to earn that title at a major private equity firm. She joined Carlyle in 2005 where she launched and built the consumer and retail team. Horbach led some of Carlyle’s most well-known investments including Dunkin’ Brands, which went public in 2011, and Beats Electronics, the headphone maker that Apple scooped up in 2014 for $3 billion. In 2016, Horbach toppled another barrier when she was named co-head of Carlyle’s U.S. buyout arm. Along with Brian Bernasek, co-head and a managing director, Horbach currently oversees all buyout deals for Carlyle in the U.S. She was also integral in launching Carlyle global portfolio solutions, a playbook used by its portfolio companies to grow.
Unfortunately, Horbach appears to have little interest in the position, one source told Beltran, stating that “she’s a deal person.”
Beltran also adds insight on another name that’s come up: Adena Friedman, president and CEO of Nasdaq. She served as CFO and managing director of Carlyle from March 2011 to May 2014, but Beltran reports that she may be unlikely to make the leap back to her former employer.
A top priority in the selection process is likely some assurance that the next chief executive will bother to stick it out this time around.
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