Carlyle Bolsters Media Team

Onlookers should not be surprised if The Carlyle Group moves deeper into the media space. The Washington, D.C. firm has brought in Norman Pearlstine, the former editor in chief of Time Inc., as a senior advisor.

David Rubenstein, in a statement, referred to Pearlstine as “a treasure,” and noted that he will bolster the firm’s “already active” telecom and media operations. Pearlstine will reside in the firm’s Global Telecommunications and Media team, and according to the press release, will work with the firm to identify investments, business opportunities and trends. He will also work closely with many of its portfolio companies.

Pearlstine’s storied career has taken him through the offices of The Wall Street Journal and Forbes. He started at the Journal in 1968, spent two years at Forbes ending in 1980, and then went back to the Journal before finally leaving in 1992. He joined Time two years later, and there, Pearlstine oversaw the editorial content for the publisher’s 154 magazines, including titles such as Fortune, Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly, in addition to Time Magazine. This past January, he was also named a senior advisor to Time Warner.

Carlyle has indeed already been active in media and telecom, although its recent deals have focused on areas outside of the print media. The firm’s activity in this sector has been international in scope, and Carlyle has notched recent deals for Swedish cable operator Com Hem and VNU NV, a marketing and media company based in the Netherlands. The firm also holds investments in movie theatre chain AMC Entertainment and Choice Media, a health information multi-channel media outfit.

Carlyle recently scored a major windfall in the space when it agreed to sell the Netherlands-based Casema to Cinven and Warburg Pincus in a €2.1 billion deal. Carlyle invested in the cable and Internet operator alongside Providence Equity Partners and GMT Communications in 2003.

While Pearlstine’s addition to the team would appear to signal a possible move into magazines or newspapers for Carlyle, he has been very active in the past in marrying media with technology. In between his stretch at the Journal and Time, he worked with Paramount Communications, QVC and Richard Rainwater in establishing Friday Holdings, an investment company formed to invest in new media. (Friday Holdings was eventually liquidated following QVC’s hostile takeover attempt of Paramount.)

Based on statements made in the Carlyle press release, it would appear that the firm’s plans for Pearlstine will have him revisiting the new media space. Carlyle Managing Director James Attwood, Jr. said, “Norm’s experience gives him extraordinary insight into the rapidly evolving media landscape.” –-K.M.