Private equity firm Carlyle Group Inc said on Sunday its chief executive officer (CEO) Kewsong Lee, 56, has stepped down with immediate effect months before the scheduled end of his five-year contract.
In a statement, Carlyle said it and Lee mutually agreed they would not renew Lee’s contract as CEO which finishes by end-2022, without disclosing reasons. The firm, which announced earnings two weeks ago without flagging potential leadership changes, said Lee also stepped down as a board member.
Co-founder Bill Conway would serve as interim CEO while a search for a new candidate takes place, the company said.
Lee, who turns 57 this week, could not immediately be reached for comment. His departure comes 18 months after Carlyle announced a strategic plan to accelerate growth and increase shareholder value.
In a memo to global staff on Sunday after the announcement, reviewed by Reuters, Conway said the firm had set up a CEO office consisting of key senior leaders, with whom he would work closely.
The senior leaders include Carlyle’s Chief Operating Officer Chris Finn, who had delayed his previously announced end-2022 retirement to help with the transition, Conway said in the memo.
The search for CEO will be undertaken “with a sense of urgency,” Conway said, adding the firm must continue to execute its business plan.
A spokeswoman for Carlyle declined to comment on the memo. Conway declined to comment further beyond the announcement.
Lee joined Carlyle in 2013 as deputy chief investment officer for corporate private equity and was made co-CEO of the firm in 2017, before assuming the title solely in 2020.
Prior to that, he had a 21-year career with rival firm Warburg Pincus.
His profile page is no longer accessible available on Carlyle’s website.
Carlyle has 26 offices across five continents, managing private equity and private credit funds and private equity asset manager AlpInvest.
As of June 30, 2022, the firm has $376 billion of total assets under management, of which $260 billion was fee-earning, and available capital for future investment was $81 billion, according to its Sunday statement. (Reporting by Jyoti Narayan in Bengaluru , Kane Wu in Hong Kong and Anirban Sen in New York; Additional reporting by Chibuike Ogui in New York; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Kenneth Maxwell)