Carlyle Reacts To Kim’s Departure

The Carlyle Group last week announced an expansion of its presence throughout Asia, while at the same time acknowledging that Michael Kim, co-head of its Asia buyouts practice, would leave the firm.

The overlap of the two announcements appears to have come in reaction to Kim’s departure from Carlyle. Kim led the team and deals in Korea, including the $2.7 billion sale of KorAm Bank to Citigroup.

Carlyle’s highly visible co-founder, David Rubenstein, who’s a former executive in the Carter Administration, issued a press release last week to reiterate the firm’s interest and activities in Asia, despite the departure of Kim. Rubenstein said, in the release, that the firm plans to open new offices in Beijing; Mumbai, India; and Sydney over the next three months. The statement also said that Carlyle’s Asia buyout fund would continue to be led by current China-based managing director Xiang-Dong Yang while Managing Director John Kwun has been named head of Korea buyouts.

Kim’s departure comes almost a month after anti-American sentiments in Japan and Korea rose to the surface in the wake of multiple sales this year by the U.S. buyout firm Ripplewood. Carlyle had no comment on whether there was any relationship between Kim’s departure and frisson over American financial investors in that country. But the firm did say that Carlyle is viewed differently than a firm such as Ripplewood and is valued as a long-term investor in Korea, which is interested in improving the value of its holdings there.

Wayne Tsou, the firm’s managing director for venture capital in Asia, says that the actions within the buyouts practice have no impact on his group. Carlyle’s VC practice in Asia is in four countries: China, India, Japan and Korea.

Tsou says that he just signed a new lease on his Beijing offices, which he will share with the buyout practice. Tsou notes that Carlyle has been operating in India for about five years, and that his group has an investment team of four professionals there. He says that the buyouts practice has yet to hire new staff that will work out of the new offices in Mumbai and Sydney.