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Comment: Private equity leader TPG grapples with tough times

TPG, the firm formerly known as Texas Pacific Group, has overtaken the Carlyle Group to become the largest private equity group in the world, according to Private Equity International.

The ranking is based on direct capital investment raised over the past five years, which is designed to reflect private equity firms' 'current heft in the market'.

Dallas-based TPG raised USD52.3bn, followed by Goldman Sachs USD48.9bn and Carlyle with USD47.7bn. The largest European-based buyout firm was CVC Capital Partners, which dropped two places to seventh with USD33.7bn in capital raised, while the UK's Permira dropped from eighth to 22nd with USD12.67bn.

But these are tough times for private equity firms, even giants of the industry like TPG. For all its size and clout, it is not immune to mistakes - like its investment into Washington Mutual last year that reportedly cost the firm and its investors USD1.3bn.

The challenge this year for TPG managing partner David Bonderman (pictured) is to invest the firm's large hoard of investors' cash carefully - or maybe not. It has just given limited partners in TPG Asia V, which raised USD4.25bn last year, the options of reducing their capital commitments by up to 10 per cent.

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