Carlyle European Unit Collapses

This story moved late last night and only made some editions of the newspaper:

By Thomas Heath

A publicly traded affiliate of the Carlyle Group said yesterday that lenders were seizing its assets, sending the fund, Carlyle Capital, into insolvency.

The collapse of Carlyle Capital is the first time a Carlyle Group fund has failed and is a stinging embarrassment for the District private-equity powerhouse, which has built an international reputation with a client list that reaches around the world.

The high-profile downfall, part of the broad turmoil in credit markets worldwide, followed a week of frantic negotiations between the Carlyle Group and a number of lenders. Carlyle Group's three founders as recently as Monday were considering injecting cash into the fund as a way to usher it through the credit crisis.

By yesterday the fund had defaulted on $16.6 billion of debt and said it expected to default soon on its remaining debt. The fund's $21.7 billion in assets were exclusively in AAA mortgage-backed securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, traditionally considered secure and conservative investments, which it was using as collateral against its loans.

In a statement, Carlyle Capital said that it had been unable to meet margin calls in excess of $400 million over the past week and that it expected its lenders to take control of its remaining assets. The lenders, headed by Deutsche Bank and J.P. Morgan Chase, began selling the securities last night, according to a report on the Wall Street Journal's Web site.

Here's the full text of the company's statement:

New York, NY - Carlyle Capital Corporation Limited (Euronext Amsterdam ticker symbol: CCC) today announced that, although it has been working diligently with its lenders, the Company has not been able to reach a mutually beneficial agreement to stabilize its financing. The Company expects that its lenders will promptly take possession of substantially all of the Company's remaining assets.

The only assets held in the Company's portfolio as of today are U.S. government agency AAA-rated residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS). During the last seven business days, the Company received margin calls in excess of $400 million. As the Company was unable to pay these margin calls, its lenders proceeded to foreclose on the RMBS collateral. In total, through March 12, the Company has defaulted on approximately $16.6 billion of its indebtedness. The remaining indebtedness is expected soon to go into default.

The Company explored a variety of proposals with its lenders in an attempt to refinance its portfolio on sustainable terms. The Carlyle Group participated actively in those negotiations and was prepared to provide substantial additional capital if a successful refinancing could be achieved. Negotiations deteriorated late on March 12 when, among other things, the pricing service utilized by certain lenders reported a drop in the value of the RMBS collateral that is expected to result in additional margin calls tomorrow of approximately $97.5 million.

Overall, it has become apparent to the Company that the basis on which lenders are willing to provide financing against the Company's collateral has changed so substantially that a successful refinancing is not possible.

By Dan Beyers  |  March 13, 2008; 7:33 AM ET  | Category:  Carlyle Group
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