FORTUNE -- TPG Capital is the largest private equity firm in America that isn't publicly traded, with more than $55 billion in capital under management. And that isn't expected to change any time soon, although TPG boss David Bonderman today nudged the door open a crack, while speaking at the NY Times Dealbook Conference.
"We haven't been in a hurry," explained Bonderman, who co-founded TPG back in 1992. "If there is an appropriate time we may very well go public. But we're sitting and watching."
Bonderman was speaking alongside David Rubenstein of The Carlyle Group (CG), whose firm went public in May 2012 and has since seen its stock appreciate by more than 36%. And he echoed Rubenstein's past sentiments that the stock markets still haven't quite grasped the differences between firms -- such as how The Blackstone Group (BX) is focused more on real estate than leveraged buyouts, or Apollo's (APO) credit concentration.
He also took a bit of issue with questioner Peter Lattman's suggestion that TPG considers itself to be the private equity version of Goldman Sachs (GS), which was the last of the large investment banks to go public: "First of all let me start off by saying that we never thought of ourselves as Goldman Sachs. My second point is the same."
But Bonderman never actually explained why TPG doesn't think of itself as Goldman Sachs in this context. Which leads me to some wild speculation: Perhaps TPG doesn't view itself as the last large private equity firm to go private, because it plans to do so long before some other peers like Bain Capital or Warburg Pincus...
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TPG Capital wants to raise a new fund late next year. Can a strong reputation overwhelm middling performance?
FORTUNE -- TPG Capital is one of the world's most storied private equity firms, dating back to its 1993 turnaround of Continental Airlines. It raised $17.8 billion for its last flagship private equity fund in 2010, and firm co-founder David Bonderman recently threw himself a blowout 70th birthday party in Las Vegas with MOREDan Primack - Nov 30, 2012 10:13 AM ET
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