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Carlyle Group battered by commodities rout: WSJ

A sign for the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, in Washington, DC.
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A sign for the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, in Washington, DC.

The Carlyle Group, one of the top private equity firms on Wall Street, has seen one of its funds sustain hefty losses because of the washout in raw materials, the Wall Street Journal reported late Friday.

The publication, citing unnamed sources close to the firm, said that Vermillion Asset Management—which Carlyle purchased 3 years ago—has seen holdings in its flagship fund plunge from about $2 billion to less than $50 million.

The report stated that Carlyle's co-founders, David Rubenstein and William Conway, invested "tens of millions of dollars of their own money in the fund," only to see it evaporate in a wave of losses and redemptions, the WSJ added.

As a result of the losses, Vermillion's founders departed the private equity giant at the end of June, sources told The Journal. The firm is pulling back from investments in key markets like oil, natural gas, coal and agriculture, the report added.

Vermillion is not the only firm to be laid low by the swoon in commodity prices. Assets under management at commodity hedge funds have tumbled 15 percent since 2012, according to data from HFR cited by The Journal.

Commodities and raw materials has been among the most volatile sectors in the global economy this year, hurt largely by fears of slowing demand from China, which has a voracious appetite for industrial commodities like copper, iron, ore and coal. In July, copper prices swooned by more than 8 percent, their biggest loss since January.

A representative from Carlyle told CNBC in an email that the firm is "successfully re-positioning our commodities business,particularly in commodities finance, to capture an enormous global opportunity."

The full report can be found on the Wall Street Journal website. (Note subscription may be required)