WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The Carlyle Group has priced its planned initial public offering at $22 per unit, below its expected price range, but setting the stage for the private equity firm to potentially raise more than $700 million.

The price range given by the firm in its IPO filing was between $23 and $25.

The firm said Wednesday that some 30.5 million of its common units are expected to begin trading Thursday on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "CG."

Carlyle also has granted underwriters an option to buy up to 4.575 million additional units at the IPO price, minus underwriting discounts.

The firm first filed plans to go public in September, a rocky time in the market when many companies that had planning offerings were delaying them. The market's appetite for IPOs has improved; notable recent non-tech offerings include those of food maker Annie's Inc. and mobile advertising company Millennial Media.

Carlyle plans to use the net proceeds from its offering to repay debt and for general corporate purposes.

Founded in 1987, Carlyle is among the largest and best-known private equity firms.

Its portfolio includes more than 200 companies and about $147 billion in assets under management. With two other private equity firms, it co-owned Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. before the restaurant operator's successful IPO last year.

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