IN EARLY August, Kewsong Lee, the chief executive of the Carlyle Group, got on a videoconference call with two of the private equity firm's board members. They told him that Carlyle's septuagenarian founders were planning to play a more active role managing the firm.
Lee, 58, was not pleased. "Life's too short," he responded, according to people familiar with the call.
Two days later, Carlyle stunned Wall Street: Lee was stepping down. So sudden was his resignation that the company didn't have a successor lined up.
Lee's departure - which people familiar with the matter said arose from differences over how to run the firm and after Lee was perceived to criticise the firm's three founders - was a...