Three more multibillion-dollar private-equity firms have recently turned to the public markets, a move that allows ordinary investors to dabble in the world of high-end leveraged buyouts. Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed late last week by Evercore Partners, Porticoes Investment Management and the Blackstone Group show that the firms hope to raise a total of about $2 billion from stock sales, using the capital to make mezzanine investments in the debt of private companies. Employing a previously little-used structure known as a business development corporation, private-equity firms figure to be a major presence in the IPO market in the next few months, as a combination of worries about government regulation and investors' hunger for yield creates a new market niche. Investors get a chance to play with the buyout boys, and private-equity firms shave many months -- and millions of dollars -- from costly private fund-raising routines. The three offerings come hard on the heels of similar fare from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and Apollo Management, which are in the vanguard of a movement toward public financing by the usually secretive private-equity industry. Industry observers say more will surely follow, and soon. "It's kind of a cross between a closed-end fund and a public company," says Marjery Neale, a partner in Shearman and Sterling's asset management group, which worked on the deal that created Apollo Investment Corp. ( AINV) earlier this month. That deal originally sought to raise $500 million through the sale of ordinary shares of stock, but investor demand put $930 million in Apollo's closed-end investment company's coffers within two weeks. Observers say the money was raised from a combination of typical private-equity investors, such as pension funds and retail investors that want to run with the buyout bulls, and institutional investors, which bought the lion's share.