The iconic private equity leader was the guest of our first Deal Talk in 2024, hosted by Steffen Pauls, Moonfare’s co-CEO and Founder.
David Rubenstein is the Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Carlyle, one of the world’s largest and most successful private investment firms. Established in 1987, Carlyle now manages $382 billion from 28 offices around the world.
Rubenstein's career spans law, government service and finance. Before co-founding Carlyle, he practised law in New York and served as a domestic policy advisor to President Jimmy Carter.
Among his many philanthropic endeavours, Rubenstein is Chairman of the Boards of the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the University of Chicago.
He’s also recognized for his role in "patriotic philanthropy," a term he uses to describe his donations to preserve American heritage and history. He has been involved in the restoration of monuments like the Washington Monument and has purchased historically significant documents like the Magna Carta to ensure they are displayed for public benefit.
In a conversation with Steffen Pauls, the iconic investor shared his thoughts on a wide range of topics, from private equity’s outlook to evergreen investing principles and leadership traits. Here are some of the highlights:
Private equity in today’s economy. “It’s harder to get loans than it used to be because of the interest rates. It’s also harder for buyers and sellers to agree on a price — there’s been a mismatch of 10 to 20% in terms of valuations. But I think buyers and sellers will come closer this year as interest rates come down. I also think you’ll see more deal activity.”
The future of the asset class. “As a general rule of thumb, if you go with good private equity people, you are likely to outperform public equity. This trend will likely continue. There’s also going to be more private equity in the emerging markets such as Latin America, Middle East, Africa and Asia. You’ll see more private equity there over the next 10 years and therefore more opportunities for people to make private equity returns.”
Democratisation of private equity. “You're going to see people invest a certain amount of money in private equity through 401(k)s, IRA or equivalent retirement accounts in Europe and elsewhere. These won’t be large amounts and likely won’t do poorly. In the next 10 years, almost everyone will have the ability to invest in private equity if they want to. But democratisation is not easy to achieve and it takes time.”
Key investing principles. “Most important principles are diversification and having realistic expectations about rates of returns — don’t believe they will be as high as someone might tell you. If you expect a 50% internal rate of return, it’s more likely to get a zero rate of return. Also, rely on good money managers. These managers have reasonable fees, are transparent, have a track record, reputation for integrity and are able to retain good people. Examine the people you’re investing with but give money to good ones to manage.”
Skills for success. “Specialisation is very important. If you really want to make a mark in private equity, take a small area and make it your own, become an expert in it. In addition, treat your investors with respect through good and bad times, don’t be arrogant with them when you’re doing well. Be humble and make sure to give them information all the time.”
Powerful leadership traits. “Persistence is everything. If you fail, pick yourself up and get back in the game. You typically need to have communication skills — to talk well, write well or to lead by example. Great leaders also know how to get things done. And they persist, persist, persist.”
Important notice: This content is for informational purposes only. The opinions expressed by the interviewee are their own. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Moonfare. Moonfare does not provide investment advice. You should not construe any information or other material provided as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. If you are unsure about anything, you should seek financial advice from an authorised advisor. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. Don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose all the money you invest. Private equity is a high-risk investment and you are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong. Subject to eligibility. Please see https://www.moonfare.com/disclaimers.
¹ Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.
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