If Carlyle Group co-CEO David Rubenstein wants another career option, attendees at Pension Bridge's The Private Equity Exclusive conference think he might consider comedy.
Mr. Rubenstein, who is also a Carlyle Group founder, was the keynote speaker at the conference, held July 25 and July 26 in Chicago's Trump International Hotel.
Stepping to the side of, rather than behind, a Trump Hotel-branded podium, Mr. Rubenstein explained he had had enough of Trump signs. Mr. Rubenstein said that the view from his Washington office includes the former Old Post Office that is being converted into a hotel by the Trump Organization.
“Every day I look at the biggest sign in Washington, a big sign that says `Trump.'”
Mr. Rubenstein later talked about expected lower private equity returns.
“Why are people rushing in?,” he queried.
“The average private equity fund will perform better than anything else you can do — legally,” he quipped.
He then turned to private equity's long history. He told the group that Christopher Columbus had a private equity-type deal with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain giving him 5% of the gold and 10% of the profits from their venture.
There was no gold and no profits, Mr. Rubenstein said, adding: “He should have switched to a fee model.”
Today, private equity is not exactly a beloved asset class, he said.
“In this era of political correctness there are few groups people can make fun of: Congress, lawyers and private equity investors.”