Women Leaders

Ling Yang, The Carlyle Group

Ling Yang

Investing in China

Editors’ Note

Ling Yang is a Managing Director advising on Asia buyout opportunities and is based in Shanghai. Yang began her career at Carlyle focusing on healthcare investments for the U.S. Buyout group and joined Carlyle Asia in 2011. Since joining Carlyle Asia, she has advised on private equity investments in healthcare, consumer/retail and financial services sectors in China. She was formerly a principal with KKR Asia. Prior to that, she worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs in the U.S. Yang graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in economics from Smith College and earned her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Firm Brief

The Carlyle Group (carlyle.com) is a global alternative asset manager with $212 billion of assets under management. Carlyle’s purpose is to invest wisely and create value on behalf of its investors, many of whom are public pensions. Carlyle invests across four segments – corporate private equity, real assets, global market strategies and investment solutions. The Carlyle Group employs more than 1,600 people in 31 offices across six continents.

Will you discuss your role at Carlyle and your key areas of focus at the firm?

I am a managing director at Carlyle Asia Buyout, advising on our healthcare investments in Greater China. I started with Carlyle’s U.S. Buyout team in the healthcare group in New York and returned to China after having spent many years studying and working in the U.S. When I first joined Asia Buyout, I became a generalist and advised on investments in consumer retail, financial services and logistics industries. Meanwhile, as our Asia team tried to specialize more, my background in and passion for healthcare brought me back to that focus. Carlyle is one of the most active large-ticket investment funds in healthcare in China, having invested in and helping to build a number of healthcare services, medical device, pharmaceutical and IVD leaders.

Will you provide an overview of Carlyle’s history and heritage in China?

Carlyle was one of the first global PE funds to enter China in the late 1990s. When we first entered China, we tried to deploy the same control deal approach that we were already very good at in developed countries. We soon discovered China wasn’t ready for control deals as businesses were state-owned or run by first-generation entrepreneurs who were in their prime. Carlyle adjusted its strategy and engaged mostly in significant minority investments and worked closely with founders and management teams to share our knowledge and resources to help them grow their businesses. Carlyle has invested in about 90 companies and deployed billions of dollars in the process. More recently, we are finding that control deal opportunities are emerging in China. Carlyle has already done three, including the buyout of McDonald’s China together with several partners, and the buyout of a clinical labs business also with a key strategic partner. I think China’s private equity market is starting to mature gradually to be more like the U.S. and Europe. Funds with control deal expertise and deeper operational knowhow will have an edge for the next ten years.

Is there close coordination from country to country and region to region at Carlyle in order to provide seamless services?

Yes, there is close coordination among Asian countries and across continents with the U.S. and Europe. We are helping a French medical device company to expand into China. Our Indian and U.S. colleagues share knowledge and connections in the drugs space. Carlyle forms cross-region teams to look at acquisition targets together. There are many examples. Carlyle promotes a culture of collaboration known as “One Carlyle.” Everybody contributes and benefits from it. It’s a key strength of a global PE platform.