NEW YORK ( TheStreet) --This was not a big year for private-equity deals. In fact, the biggest buyout of a public company in 2014 was the $8.7 billion deal for PetSmart (PETM) .
The lack of big deals is expected to continue in 2015. It's not hard to see why: Investors are losing faith in private equity.
The toxic combination of too much leverage and overpaying for assets tarnished the reputations of some of the industry's top names: David Bonderman, Henry Kravis, Stephen Feinberg. Each one did debt-laden deals in the LBO boom that preceded the financial crisis -- only to see assets levered with billions of dollars default. Other sponsors are still nervously looking for an exit.
Henry Kravis and KKR's ( KKR) partnership with David Bonderman and Goldman Sachs' ( GS) private equity arm produced the $45 billion buyout of TXU in 2007. It also produced the biggest bankruptcy in the history of private equity this April. Stephen Feinberg's $7.4 billion Chrysler bet had to be bailed out by the U.S. government -- although, according to reports, Cerberus Capital Management managed to salvage much of a soured deal.
For Bonderman and TPG Capital, the headaches are only beginning: Friday, Caesars Entertainment Operating Co., which runs Caesars Entertainment ( CZR) , said it plans to file Chapter 11 early next year in an attempt to reduce $18 billion in debt.