Carlyle Group Names First Communications VP
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Carlyle Group Names First Communications VP

Global private equity firm The Carlyle Group-—at the center of controversy because of its links to the bin Laden family and high-ranking government officials—-has named Chris Ullman vice president for corporate communications.

Paul Holmes

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 15—Global private equity firm The Carlyle Group—at the center of controversy because of its links to the bin Laden family and high-ranking government officials—has named Chris Ullman vice president for corporate communications, a new position that includes responsibility for both internal and external communications.
The Carlyle Group buys failing defense and telecommunications enterprises and sells them for a profit and is the 11th largest defense contractor in the United States. Former president George Bush is a senior advisor to the group—and is paid in stock for delivering a half-dozen or more speeches for Carlyle every year—while until recently the family of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden owned about $2 million in Carlyle stock.
The family sold its holdings in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks to avoid negative publicity, but some critics have suggested a conflict of interest for President George W. Bush. Watchdog group Judicial Watch, for example, says “It’s a unique situation where you have the president's father, an ex-president, out there negotiating and dealing with foreign governments and advising foreign entities. It just leads to confusion. Does he speak for the Carlyle Group or for the government of the United States? Obviously, the Carlyle Group benefits from that confusion. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have hired him.”
Ullman joins the company from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. He will help develop and implement The Carlyle Group’s global communications strategy and will serve as its spokesman.
Says David Rubenstein, founder and managing director, “Chris brings a rich mix of marketing skills and career experiences to this new position. His 15 years in the public policy and securities worlds coupled with his ability to make complex subjects understandable will be instrumental as Chris conveys Carlyle’s goals and successes to our clients and the public.”
Ullman says the firm started its search for an in-house public relations executive more than a year ago, but that recent events added a sense of urgency. “In the past, this company has kept its nose to the grindstone, but as it has gotten bigger it has recognized the need for a more coordinated communications approach. We have so many experts in so many areas, and we want to get those people out there to provide commentary.”
Before joining OMB, Ullman served as public affairs director and spokesman for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission under Chairman Arthur Levitt, now senior advisor to Carlyle, and as the senior public relations official for the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee.
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