News briefs, week of Sept. 24, 2007

Carlyle sells stake to Abu Dhabi group

The Carlyle Group announced last week that it has agreed to sell a 7.5% position to a state-owned investment group in Abu Dhabi. Under terms of the ownership sale, Mubadala Development Co. will acquire the 7.5% position in exchange for $1.35 billion. In addition, Mubadala also will commit $500 million to a new U.S. buyout fund that Carlyle is currently raising.

It would be the group’s first fund investment with Carlyle, although state-owned sister group ADIA is a longtime Carlyle backer.

The sale follows a similar move by rival The Blackstone Group, which sold a $3 billion stake to China’s state-owned investment company in May. A month later, Blackstone launched its $4 billion IPO, and some have speculated that Carlyle will also go public soon.

Carlyle founder David Rubenstein seemed to suggest that an IPO was in the offing at a Private Equity Analyst Conference in New York this month when he said that all of the top firms will be public within the next five years. This is a slight shift from past statements, in which he’s expressed a bit more doubt about the likelihood of publicly traded private equity firms.

Nijhawan leaves Key

Vinit Nijhawan

has left Key Venture Partners, which he had joined in 2005 as a venture partner.

Key Managing Director David Dame confirmed Nijhawan’s departure, though he remains listed on the firm’s website, and said that it was caused by a divergence of stage focus. “Vinit decided that he has a greater interest in early stage investing, whereas we’re more focused on growth stage,” Dame said. The Waltham, Mass.-based firm focuses on late stage growth oriented investments.

Dame also said that the firm still has dry powder left in its $150 million inaugural fund remaining for new investments, and that marketing for the next fund is expected to begin in early 2008.

There had been reports that marketing for the fund already had begun and was then postponed, but Dame says those talks were all informal, without any PPM ever being drawn up. Some of the rumors, he says, were born of secondary firm interest in some sort of stapled transaction, but those discussions died once Key Corp. said that it wouldn’t sell its existing LP position.

AthenaHealth prices too low


looks to be the only VC-backed IPO to price in September, as of PE Week’s deadline last week.

AthenaHealth raised $113 million with an IPO that priced about 6.19 million shares, at $18 per share, when it debuted last week. This was above its estimated $14 to $16 a share range. But then demand surged. At market close last Thursday, it was up to more than $35 per share.

The Watertown, Mass.-based company provides online business services for physician practices, and had raised about $34 million in VC funding from Oak Investment Partners (which owned 17.3% pre-IPO and 13.7% post-IPO), Draper Fisher Jurvetson (14.8% and 12.5%), Venrock (14.8% and 12.4%) and Cardinal Partners (12.6% and 9.4%). Oak sold 276,085 of its 4.6 million shares via the IPO, while Cardinal unloaded more than 400,000 of its 3.36 million shares.

Buyout firm comes out on Topps

New York-based Topps Co. Inc., a maker of bubble gum and sports trading cards, announced last week that shareholders approved a $378 million deal for the company to be bought by Tornante Co. and Madison Dearborn Partners.

Tornante is the investment firm founded by Michael Eisner, former CEO of The Walt Disney Co.