Carlyle, TPG Get Busy On Deal Front

It seems like the Carlyle Group is announcing a deal, or rumored to be involved in one, just about every day, suggesting a significant thawing in the debt markets.

The Washington D.C.-based firm disclosed Nov. 4 that it is investing in Sandler O’Neill + Partners LP, the New York investment bank. Two days before that, a Carlyle-led investor group agreed to inject up to $200 million in Brand Group Holdings, the parent company of Brand Banking Co. Carlyle was also said to be bidding on Indonesia’s Matahari hypermart business earlier the same week.

And Carlyle isn’t the only global powerhouse that seems to be getting more active. On Nov. 8, TPG Capital announced two carve-out deals. The Fort Worth, Texas-based firm agreed to buy the distribution business of chemical maker Ashland Inc. for $930 million, and to buy Avon Products Inc.’s Japan business for $89.8 million.

Last month was also a busy time for Carlyle, which announced two big transactions: a $2.9 billion deal for CommScope Inc., the Hickory, N.C.-based communications equipment company; and a $2 billion agreement for Syniverse Technology, the Tampa, Fla.-based telecommunications services company.

Altogether Carlyle has announced 27 deals globally year-to-date as of Nov. 2, according to data from Thomson Reuters, publisher of Buyouts. This includes two in the fourth quarter, eight in the third quarter, nine in the second and eight in the first.

Carlyle announced or closed 29 deals globally in all of 2009, including 17 in the fourth quarter, according to Thomson Reuters. With about six weeks left in the quarter, Carlyle very likely will surpass last year’s total number of transactions.

But what is more significant is the deal value. Carlyle’s 27 deals this year are valued at roughly $14.6 billion, more than four times last year’s meager $3 billion.

Carlyle’s biggest deal so far in 2010? The PE firm’s roughly $3.8 billion pending buy of vitamin maker NBTY comes in on top, according to Thomson Reuters. Deals for CommScope rank second while Syniverse places third.

Carlyle Managing Director Chris Ullman said the spate of recent deals are a coincidence, adding in an e-mail that the firm has “been pretty busy all year,” with nearly three dozen corporate and real estate investments totalling $9 billion of equity. “We’ve been particularly active in China, Brazil and the U.S.,” Ullman wrote.

Bernard Vaughan, a senior editor at Buyouts, contributed to this report.