KENYABack in February, Apollo Management founder Leon Black said he expected no return to the leveraged buyout salad days for at least two years, and that his and other dens of private equity would have to make do on paltry meals of distressed debt until then.

That carrion diet is still the order of the day. Caroline Humer reports that Apollo plans to take ownership of most of Charter Communications through the cable company’s reorganization in bankruptcy court. Citing three sources familiar with the situation, she says Apollo, which has purchased Charter’s debt, plans to own the majority of its equity following the bankruptcy restructuring, which includes a preplanned reorganization of its debt and an equity rights offering.

Apollo’s move seems to be more evidence that what Black said in Germany earlier this year is settling into the permafrost of the great credit freeze. “The big public-to-privates are gone the way of the dodo,” he said.

If financing really thaws (and we note ominously that a freak snow storm, heavy enough to bury several legions of groundhogs, is hitting midtown Manhattan this morning), Black said he would invest the last half of his latest fund in traditional buyouts.

Deals of the Day:

* Skincare specialist Stiefel Laboratories Inc is considering selling itself in a deal that could be worth more than $3 billion.