Private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts is no stranger to headline-making leveraged buyouts. In 1988 it pulled off the biggest LBO in history with its $31 billion take-private of RJR Nabisco. Only three years earlier, it had broken records with its $8 billion takeover of Beatrice Foods. In July KKR, with Bain Capital and the private equity arm of Merrill Lynch, topped itself with a $33 billion bid for Hospital Corporation of America. Founded in 1969 by the family of former Senator Bill Frist, HCA has stakes in close to 200 hospitals and more than 90 surgery centers.