Private equity firms aren't all just corporate raiders of the 1980s that certain politicians try to spin them as.
That's not to say that small towns selling off public services to them is a good idea. Or any other public/private partnership bullshit that is sold as 'free markets' when its the mostly just politicians and their wealthy connections being complete vultures creating things that are nothing like markets.
The book "King of Capital" has a really good overview of the history of private equity:
The late 80s were definitely a different time, though - the amount of money needed for the RJR LBO is much more easily accessible to people in similar positions in 2016. As of June 30th, KKR's AUM is $131B, while Blackstone is at $356B.
Another good read on PE is King of Capital (https://www.amazon.com/dp/0307886026).
If you're interested in learning the technical details of corporate finance, you're probably best off starting with something like the Coursera class Introduction to Corporate Finance (https://www.coursera.org/learn/wharton-finance), and then reading the textbooks referenced by the course for a more in-depth understanding.
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