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Obama not "anti-business": Carlyle's Rubenstein

Carlyle Group's co-founder and Managing Director David Rubenstein speaks at the panel discussion "Global Opportunities in Private Equity" at
Carlyle Group's co-founder and Managing Director David Rubenstein speaks at the panel discussion "Global Opportunities in Private Equity" at

By Olivia Oran

(Reuters) - Carlyle Group LP co-founder David Rubenstein said President Barack Obama's economic plans are not anti-business, countering criticism from his Republican rival Mitt Romney, who like Rubenstein is a veteran of the private equity business.

While Obama has come under attack for his health care plan and corporate tax policies - criticized as harmful to business - the administration has not turned a blind eye to CEOs, Rubenstein, Carlyle's co-chief executive, said in an interview on October 2 with Reuters TV host Robert Wolf, the former Wall Street executive and outside Obama advisor.

"Obama had reached out to the business community, they just haven't liked all of his decisions and some of his rhetoric," said Rubenstein, a former White House aide in the Carter administration. "But generally I think the administration is quite open and accessible."

His background notwithstanding, Rubenstein denied any party affiliation.

"I don't really try to get involved politically by giving money to politicians or by saying I'm a Democrat or Republican," he said. "Right now, I just view myself as an American."

Rubenstein worked with the Obama administration earlier this summer, when Carlyle formed a joint venture with Sunoco to save a Philadelphia oil refinery set to close.

"The people at the White House did help, and we were very pleased with it," he said.

Rubenstein also pointed to the fiscal cliff - the year-end expiration of tax cuts and triggering of spending cuts - as a major cause of uncertainty within the business community.

"Everywhere I go in the world, people care about the fiscal cliff," he said. "It's not like many things that get overly dramatized."

However, Rubenstein said it is unlikely the lame-duck Congress will make any sweeping changes.

"We'll probably kick it down the road for six months to give the next president and the next Congress an opportunity to really focus on it," he said.

During the interview, Rubenstein touched on several other topics, including Carlyle's aggressive dealmaking this year. The firm has made several large acquisitions in the last quarter alone, including photo agency Getty Images for $3.3 billion, DuPont Co's auto paint unit for $4.9 billion and investment manager TCW Group.

Going forward, Carlyle is interested in continuing to make acquisitions in emerging markets.

"The emerging markets will probably not grow as much as they have, but China, India and Brazil are great countries in which to invest," he said.

(Reporting by Olivia Oran; Editing by Jan Paschal and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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