2. "In the new calendar year, private equity deals will pick up." For private equity investors, concerns over the ability to get buyout financing, uncertainty about the refinance of existing leveraged investments and a slowdown in initial public offerings led to a big second half slowdown after a post-crisis high deals pace earlier in the year. As a result, private equity deals fell 7% in 2011. Expect the tide to turn back to growth in 2012, says Krouskos. Investors currently watching private equity firms circle Yahoo! ( YHOO), in addition to December buyout bids of Talbots ( TLB), Blue Coat Systems ( BCSI) may also see their companies taken private at big premiums. In U.S. takeovers, private equity firms have paid a 20% premium on average in nearly 3,000 deals, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Some of the biggest private buyouts of the year are KKR's purchase of Samson Investment, Blackstone's ( BX) takeover of Kinetic Concepts ( KCI) and a consortium of buyers for EMI. Additionally, Silver Lake turned heads when it sold Skype to Microsoft ( MSFT) for $8.5 billion. Currently KKR's put the most money on the deals table, shelling out $16.9 billion to buy companies, followed by Blackstone and Apax Partners, according to Dealogic data, which shows that, the three firms have accounted for roughly 18.5% of 2011 private equity buyout activity. As investor funds come into KKR and Blackstone coffers, they may put their near record cash, called "dry powder" in recent earnings calls, to work investing in companies.