Carlyle Closes $5B, Aims for More –

The Carlyle Group recently closed on just under $5 billion for its latest North American buyout fund, and is expected to raise an additional $1.5 billion over the next several weeks. Once finished, it would be the largest private equity fund ever raised by an independent firm.

The Blackstone Group currently holds the title with a $6.45 billion vehicle closed in 2003; JPMorgan Partners raised $6.5 billion for its current vehicle, though it is primarily funded by parent company J.P. Morgan Chase.

In the meantime, it seems likely that Carlyle already can lay claim to the largest-ever first close (excluding JPMorgan Partners). Only 11 other dollar-denominated funds ever have been raised in excess of $5 billion, including funds from KKR, Blackstone, DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, which held first closes on significantly less than $5 billion. First-close information on two other funds – one from Texas Pacific Group and another from Thomas H. Lee Partners – was unavailable as of presstime.

Carlyle began fund-raising in September with a $5 billion target capitalization, but later raised the ante to $6.5 billion after intense limited partner interest.

Its previous North American buyout fund was capped at $3.9 billion in 2000.

The $3.9 billion fund was 65% called-down as of the end of second quarter in 2004, and featured an 18% net internal rate of return, according to data from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).

A Carlyle spokesman declined to discuss fund-raising, citing Securities and Exchange Commission restrictions.