The award of Conventional Power Sponsor of the Year to The Carlyle Group reflects the high esteem in which this well-established private equity team, led by Matt O’Connor, is held by market participants, as well as its sophisticated use of the full range of financing markets in 2019.
Carlyle stayed out of the increasingly tough market for new build combined-cycle gas-fired projects in PJM Interconnection but was one of the most active players throughout the year as it adjusted its portfolio through divestments, acquisitions and refinancings.
The year started with the sale of Carlyle’s CalPeak portfolio in California to Avenue Capital Group portfolio company Middle River Power and Carlyle’s acquisition, around the same time, of three combined-cycle plants in New England from Emera Energy. The latter transaction was financed in the term loan B market as Revere Power. Carlyle then tested market appetite for its 1.6 GW Nautilus Power portfolio before opting to refinance the assets instead and making its second successful foray of the year into the leveraged loan market. Finally, in November, Carlyle turned to the bank market to amend and extend of the loan for its Rhode Island State Energy Center, neatly shaving 25 bp off the margin.
The judging panel noted the capabilities of Carlyle’s operational porfolio company, Cogentrix Power Management, as a key strength differentiating the firm from some other private equity investors, as well as the aptitude of the private equity officials.
Several interviewees picked out managing director Jim Larocque as one of the most impressive figures in the business.
“They’re very, very good,” said a senior project finance banker. “They’re vey smart,” added an infrastructure and energy attorney. “They are very effective in closing transactions. I’m really impressed with their approach.”
See all of the 2019/2020 awards