Kewsong Lee: Carlyle has $9 bln-plus for energy

  • Firm has between $9 bln and $10 bln of dry powder
  • “More agita to come” in energy, says Lee
  • Second close for energy mezzanine fund scheduled for March 

“At Carlyle we actually have a huge amount of gunpowder – $9 [billion] to $10 billion of fresh gunpowder – available to be deployed to the energy sector in various shapes and forms,” Lee said in a March 24 keynote interview at the Buyouts East conference, which is produced by Buyouts publisher Buyouts Insider.

“I’m not an expert, but I do think there is a real possibility that oil will stay at a low-level, and stay there, longer than people would like. And I think there’s more agita to come in the energy markets,” Lee said.

The firm will consider investing in energy through its energy mezzanine, distressed debt and buyout funds, Lee said. Carlyle was scheduled to hold a second close on roughly $1.3 billion for its second energy mezzanine fund at the end of March, sources have told Buyouts sister publication peHUB.

Plummeting oil and gas prices depressed the valuations of many energy sector companies. Declining oil and gas-related revenues at those companies could create a wave of opportunities for private equity firms looking to acquire energy assets at reduced or distressed prices, market sources said. Several firms, including Apollo Global Management, Avenue Capital, Blackstone Group, Goldman Sachs and Riverstone Holdings have announced energy credit funds in recent months.

“I can tell you there are lots companies knocking on our doors,” Lee said. “They’re not looking for a little bit of money; they’re looking for a big chunk of money to get them through the current agita, disruption, that’s occurring in the sector.”