Of course, in the opaque world of private equity, there is a range of metrics to determine success. So in an effort to make matters more transparent, publicly traded private equity firms have started touting distributable earnings as the ultimate measuring stick.
From that perspective, Carlyle's latest earnings report showed plenty of reason for optimism. The Washington, DC-based buyout shop reported pre-tax distributable earnings, the amount available to pay shareholders, of $210.5 million, a 35% YoY jump from the $155.8 million in 4Q 2017. A bulk of that total came from fee-related earnings of $175.4 million, up from $26.7 million in the same period a year earlier.
By comparison, Blackstone's after-tax distributable earnings fell 42% YoY to $722 million, while KKR's jumped 23.5% to $460.1 million. Apollo does not report the metric.
Carlyle finished 2018 with AUM of $216.5 billion, an 11% YoY jump. And that number figures to go up as the buyout shop deploys its seventh flagship fund, which closed on $18.5 billion in July, and its fifth flagship Asia fund, which brought in close to $6.6 billion a month earlier. And at the end of January, the Financial Times reported that Carlyle had raised nearly $1.6 billion for its fourth global tech fund after just three months of fundraising.
In its earnings call, Carlyle co-chief executive Kewsong Lee said he expects the firm to raise another $20 billion in 2019, as it inches toward a past promise to raise a combined $100 billion by 2020.
David Rubenstein's shop certainly hasn't been shy to spend. In December, the firm announced it had agreed to purchase StandardAero, a provider of aftermarket parts and maintenance for aerospace and defense industries, from Veritas Capital for a reported $5 billion, including debt. And on the last day of the year, it completed a deal to acquire insurance company Sedgwick from KKR for some $6.7 billion, marking its largest US-based acquisition of the year.