Carlyle Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Kewsong Lee is working on post-election plans and helping employees avoid burnout, while continuing to pursue deals, especially outside the U.S.
The firm has invested about $1.5 billion in Asia alone this year, mostly in health-care and technology, Lee said in an interview that aired Thursday on Bloomberg Television. He and his team also are eyeing tax changes, regulatory shifts and fiscal stimulus that may come in the wake of the U.S. election next month.
“We’re going to be well-positioned no matter what the outcome is,” he said.
Lee took over as sole CEO in September after Glenn Youngkin, who shared the role, stepped down. It falls to Lee, who joined the Washington-based firm from Warburg Pincus in 2013, to maintain Carlyle’s corporate culture and keep employees motivated, even as investing and managing via video conference become the norm.
I do worry about burning out, and leaders have to be very good at appreciating the differences between personal boundaries and professional boundaries,” Lee said, noting that he and his colleagues, like many others, are essentially “living at work.”
Private equity investors face a world of rising valuations given the performance of publicly traded companies, even as the Covid-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on the global economy. That means Carlyle is pursuing earlier-stage deals and credit investments, rather than leveraged buyouts or unwanted divisions of larger companies.
New guidance that allows more investors to hold private equity assets, including through 401(k) retirement plans, still needs to be ironed out, Lee said.
“Accessing that market is going to be harder than people think,” he said. “There are operational issues, there are technology issues. We’re going to be very thoughtful about it.”
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