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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Carlyle Group Wednesday morning announced that it will become the latest big private equity firm to convert from a publicly traded partnership into a C-corporation.

The big picture: Carlyle converting, on its face, isn't too surprising. Rivals like Apollo, Blackstone and KKR already took the plunge. But this particular conversation is different because Carlyle is giving all of its shares equal voting rights, meaning that the firm's 30% outside owners will have a 30% say in the business. Other firms have maintained a dual-class share structure.

Why it matters: A primary driver of these conversations is to expand shareholder bases, as many institutional investors were barred from holding publicly traded partnerships. By eliminating the dual-class share structure, Carlyle gets the added benefit of becoming eligible for inclusion in S&P and Russell indexes.

  • "We took our time to be thoughtful and deliberate, and landed on a structure that's simple and aligned with our shareholders," Carlyle co-CEO Kewsong Lee tells Axios.
  • Co-CEO Glenn Youngkin adds that there was no serious consideration of taking Carlyle back private.

It's not surprising that Carlyle was the first of its peer group to equalize shareholder votes, given that it's also the first to have all its founders pull back from day-to-day management.

  • Lee and Youngkin became co-CEOs at the beginning of 2018, succeeding co-founders David Rubenstein and Bill Conway.
  • Steve Schwarzman remains CEO of Blackstone, Henry Kravis and George Roberts remain co-CEOs of KKR and Leon Black remains CEO of Apollo.

Carlyle's conversion will officially take place Jan. 1, 2020, and its shares were up around 5% at Wednesday morning's open.

Go deeper

Biden says he'll make Supreme Court pick by end of February

President Biden speaks on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday said he will announce the nominee for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's replacement by the end of February.

Driving the news: Biden also affirmed that he will nominate a Black woman to replace Breyer, saying "it's long overdue."

Stephen Breyer formally announces retirement from Supreme Court

Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Justice Stephen Breyer on Thursday sent a letter to President Biden formally announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court.

State of play: Breyer said his retirement will take effect when the court "rises for the summer recess (typically late June or early July) assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed."

COVID created an epic U.S. trade gap

Chart: Axios Visuals. Data: Census Bureau/Bureau of Economic Analysis

The details of the blockbuster fourth quarter GDP report released Thursday morning tell a vivid story of how the underpinnings of the world economy have been reshaped by the pandemic.

One example: In the arithmetic around U.S. economic output, trade acted as a more severe drag last year than it has in a generation.