The move, confirmed by people familiar with the process, follows two weeks of interviews in New York between Carlyle and nearly a dozen investment banks.
The Washington-based private equity giant has a team of insiders preparing paperwork that it expects to file with regulators this summer, according to people familiar with the decision who would not speak on the record before an official announcement. Carlyle is expected to hire more banks to assist the lead underwriters.
Lead underwriting, especially for a big IPO, is considered prestigious. For example, J.P. Morgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon personally made the pitch to Carlyle for the underwriting business at a meeting this week at Carlyle’s New York offices on 53rd Street, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting.
Spokesmen for Carlyle and for each of the three banks either declined to comment or did not return messages seeking comment.
Carlyle is expected to use the money it raises through a public offering for investments, to lure new talent and to allow its partners to eventually monetize their equity in the firm.
The results have been mixed.
KKR’s shares have remained above its IPO price. Blackstone, which went public in 2007, before the financial crisis, saw its shares plunge during the recession. But the price has recovered somewhat.
“Maintaining a high price on these stocks is a challenge because these companies are hard to understand,” said Colin Blaydon of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business.
Carlyle manages more than $100 billion on behalf of investors and has more than 200 companies in its portfolio, as varied as a Brazilian lingerie company, Dunkin’ Donuts and the Nielsen Co. More than 500,000 people are employed in Carlyle-owned firms around the world.