kravis3.jpgKohlberg Kravis Roberts‘s plan to IPO is nothing new – the company filed its paperwork to do so a year ago. So why should the storied firm of private equity titan Henry Kravis (pictured) choose now to tap this battered market? Problems at its Amsterdam-listed fund are also hardly new. Shares of the fund, set to be exchanged for new NYSE-listed KKR shares as part of the offering, jumped 27 percent during morning trade. They had fallen about 30 percent since the beginning of May, and had lost more than half their value since late February last year as the credit crisis bit. It’s hard to see the deal framed as a statement of confidence that IPO investors are going to step up to the bar, given all the grim news swirling capital markets. What else might be prompting this move? Carlyle Capital Corp, an affiliate of U.S.-based buyout firm Carlyle Group and mainly invested in mortgage-backed assets, went bankrupt in March and liquidated its assets as it could not meet margin calls from its lenders. KPE said in March it had no exposure to residential real estate loans, but its net asset value dropped 3.4 percent in the second quarter amid investment losses and foreign currency transactions after a 5.4 percent drop in net assets from operations in the first quarter.

Consumer goods giant Unilever agreed to sell its North American laundry business to private equity firm Vestar Capital Partners for about $1.45 billion to complete the bulk of its sell-off program. The business makes Snuggle, Wisk and Surf products and had been looking to sell it for almost a year in its struggle to compete as a distant No. 2 behind archrival Procter and Gamble. Vestar intends to fold the business into its Huish Detergents operations and re-name it Sun Products Corp.

Other deals of the day:

* Britain’s BAE Systems said it had made a recommended offer for Detica Group, a provider of IT services to the national security sector, at 440 pence a share, valuing the business at about 538 million pounds ($1.07 billion) including assumed debt.

* French electrical engineering group Schneider Electric has agreed to buy Canada’s Xantrex for 415 million Canadian dollars ($409.3 million) to boost its renewable energy equipment operations.

* U.S. computer services and software group International Business Machines has agreed to buy French software maker Ilog for 215 million euros ($340 million), the companies said.