Global private equity firm Carlyle’s Kewsong Lee has stepped down as chief executive officer with immediate effect, the company said in a statement on Sunday, even as his five-year employment agreement contract was to come to an end only by the end of this year.
William Conway, co-founder and non-executive co-chairman at Carlyle has been appointed to serve as interim CEO, the statement added.
According to the statement, the company's board and Lee "mutually agreed" with this decision as part of their discussions about the right timing to initiate a search for a new CEO. Lee has also stepped down as member of the board.
Lee joined Carlyle in 2013 as deputy chief investment officer for corporate private equity. He was made co-CEO of the firm in 2017, before becoming the sole CEO in 2020. Prior to joining Carlyle, he was with another private equity firm Warburg Pincus.
"Diversified and durable, Carlyle is now well-positioned to capitalize on many exciting areas of attractive growth. I wish my colleagues at Carlyle well as they continue to set the highest standards for integrity and value creation in the asset management industry," said Lee.
Carlyle has already formed a committee to search for a new permanent CEO. The board's search committee will include Conway as well as independent directors Lawton Fitt, Anthony Welters, Linda Filler and Derica Rice.
"As Carlyle undertakes this process to select a new leader, we do so from a position of strength, a testament to the performance of our talented team," said Conway.
"Looking ahead, our objective remains to execute on our vision of enhancing scale, speed, and performance in order to grow and deliver sustainable results, in any investment environment," added Conway.
The statement also said that to assist Conway, an office of the CEO comprising of top executives has been established. Besides, Christopher Finn, chief operating officer, has agreed to defer his previously-announced retirement at the end of this year to facilitate a seamless transition, it said.
Carlyle, with 26 offices across five continents, had assets under management of $376 billion as of June 30, 2022.
In its latest transaction in India, Carlyle along with Advent International in June received an approval to invest in private lender Yes Bank. In June, Carlyle said that it has entered into a strategic partnership with tiles and bathware maker Varmora Granito Pvt. Ltd through an acquisition of a significant minority stake in the company.