The sale of part of Carlyle Group LP’s stake in China Pacific Insurance Group Co. is a reminder that while the company has made a killing in one of foreign private equity’s biggest success stories in China, those glory
days for the industry are probably over.
Carlyle sold 215 million shares for about US$860 million by a private placement after its lockup period expired last week. Based on Friday's share price of 32.30 Hong Kong dollars (US$4.15), Carlyle's remaining 47% stake in the company's H-shares is now worth US$4.6 billion, representing a return of some six times its original investment.
The returns could rise as Carlyle gradually sells down its holdings, removing the overhang concern that's weighed on China Pacific shares. (It still owns about 12.9% of the company, including both A and H shares, compared to 15.4% before the private placement.) But the winding down of Carlyle's involvement in China's third largest life insurer by premiums marks what may be the last of the megadeals foreign private-equity firms have managed to score in the country. The other one was TPG's acquisition and sale earlier this year of a 17% stake in Shenzhen Development Bank Co., on which it made a return of more than 16 times its outlay.
Carlyle famously abandoned a plan to acquire Chinese construction-equipment maker Xugong Group Construction Machinery Co. in 2008 after it failed to receive government approval, even after it agreed to take a minority stake rather than the 85% of the company it originally sought. Carlyle's interest sparked criticism within China that the country shouldn't let strategically important industry leaders such as Xugong fall into foreign hands. Since then, China has actively nurtured a domestic private-equity industry to rival overseas players.
The promise for foreign private-equity now lies in raising yuan funds that will give them (they hope) greater access to a wider range of industries. Still, the deal sizes have shrunk considerably since 2005 when Carlyle made the first of two investments in China Pacific that eventually totaled about $740 million, according to a person familiar with the matter. More typical are deals such as a joint investment between Carlyle and Shanghai conglomerate Fosun Group in Chinese baby-food maker Yashili Group Co. for US$100 million in September 2009, or the US$21 million Carlyle invested in Chinese restaurant chain DIO F&B Group in December 2007. In June this year Carlyle said it invested US$140 million among four companies in Asia, including one in China, ATMU Inc., the largest independent automated-teller-machine deployer in the country. It didn't disclose how much it spent on that deal.
The foreign private-equity firms will just have to hope that the profits add up consistently enough to prove that small can still be sexy when it comes to the world's biggest emerging market.
凯雷投资集团(Carlyle Group LP)减持中国太平洋保险（集团）股份有限公司股权一事告诉我们，虽然它谱写了外资私募投资中国的最成功篇章之一并获利丰厚，但这个行业的辉煌岁月或许已成过去。
目前外资私募的前途系于人民币基金的募集，它们指望从中获得更宽的渠道去拓展投资范围。但自2005年凯雷对太保做出两笔投资当中的第一笔以来，交易规模已经明显缩减。（据一位知情人士说，那笔投资的总额最终约为7.4亿美元。）更典型的交易，是2009年9月凯雷与上海综合企业集团复星集团(Fosun Group)对中国婴儿食品生产商广东雅士利集团有限公司1亿美元的联合投资，以及2007年12月凯雷对中国餐饮连锁企业迪欧餐饮集团(DIO F&B Group)2,100万美元的投资等。2010年6月，凯雷说它对亚洲四家公司投资了1.4亿美元，其中包括中国一家，即中国最大独立自动柜员机部署公司通邮集团(ATMU Inc.)。凯雷没有透露这笔投资用了多少资金。