Honestly, this is nothing. They just overhired and got a little too excited this year.
Most private equity firms will not see layoffs in the front office. They may trim a little bit of staff in the back office, and they will definitely lay off a lot of people at the portfolio company level. However, front office employees are just paid out of the management fees associated with the fund (which are fixed). The shareholders and partners benefit primarily from carried interest, which is not associated w/ junior-level front office people's salaries.
If you lay off front office employees, where are you going to put the money to use? The only thing I can really think of is padding the senior guys salaries even further (when they already take the lions share of their total comp in carry) - this would not go over well.
The only thing that surprised me about the announcement is that they cut people in growth equity. It sounds like it was more related to individual and group performance rather than industry outlook, though. I believe that old-fashioned private equity investments in growth companies with the goals of sustainable growth and operational improvements are what will drive the PE firms over the next 4-5 years. The LBO deals are going to be tough, if not impossible, for Carlyle to execute.
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