Carlyle Group’s Plan to Takeover the Banking System
So what’s Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s call for changes in regulation of the financial markets all about? A clue may have been revealed today by Randal Quarles, former Under Secretary of the Treasury who led the Treasury Department’s effort in the coordination of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets and is a current Managing Director at Carlyle Group.
Quarles spoke at a luncheon meeting of the Washington DC-based National Economists Club. His topic: “Restructuring Financial Regulation”. Quarles told the luncheon group that he chose the topic in January. Hmmm. Didn’t Treasury Paulson just make the proposal to restructure the financial regulatory agencies last week? How did Quarles pick this topic back in January? Short-answer, Quarles is a major insider and his comments should be monitored to get a sense for what insiders are thinking.
In his talk, Quarles said that estimates go into the hundreds of billions in terms of capital that will be required by the financial industry because of losses sustained as a result of the current crisis. He said there will be more financial institutions that will go under in coming months.
He said that public markets will not supply the necessary funds because they don’t have the capabilities to study in detail the risks and potential rewards of the complex financials of financial institutions. He said private equity firms have the capabilities to do so and to supply the necessary funds. (N.B. Carlyle Group is a private equity firm).
Quarles stated that some changes in the structure of regulations that Paulson proposed were necessary but would take time to develop. He specifically stated that one regulation that needed to be changed is the limitation on the size of positions that non-banks can take in banks. (Note: Limitations in the size of non-banks positions in banks now limits Carlyle Group from taking large positions in banks).
During the Q & A session, one questioner summarized Quarles talk this way:
So what you said here today is that you would like to see regulatory changes to make it easier for private equity to take major positions in banks? And private equity, through various entities on and offshore gets its money from banks. So what you want is an environment where private equity can borrow from banks to takeover banks?
In response, Quarles laughed.
We might add this private equity acquisition of financial institutions will go on as the general public is scared off from investing in the financial institutions by scare headlines, or as Quarles would put it, “Public markets just don’t have the capabilities to judge the risks and rewards of the various financial institutions.” Translation: The public is not clued in on which firms the insiders have decided to let survive, like JPMorgan, and which they are going to takedown, like Bear Stearns.