The trend of companies being scooped up by private equity firms is going to continue to increase, according to a new survey.

Seventy-five percent of the more than 100 chief financial officers told executive services firm Tatum LLC said they expect buyouts of investors and taking companies private to increase. And the private equity trend is already at record levels.

“Private equity is quickly becoming the number one place that companies of all sizes are going to obtain capital,” said Rich D’Amaro, Tatum’s chief executive officer.

“We are seeing a steady increase in the amount of public companies and divisions going private via private equity, and small companies continue to solicit these funds for growth purposes as an alternative to an [initial public offering],” he added.

Tatum, citing data from Thomson Financial, noted that $644 billion in private equity deals were made in the first half of the 2007. That’s a 95 percent increase from 2006.

Private equity funds also remain well stocked in money with 170 funds reporting more than $1 billion in assets.

Tatum reported a variety of reasons for companies seeking private equity rather than an IPO:

• “Private equity is where the money is. Businesses and investors alike are finding that private equity will provide them with a positive return on investment. Making an initial public offering (IPO) is a longer, more formalized process that many businesses today do not want to undertake in order to gain access to capital.

• “Private equity is transition money. Many mid-market private equity funds provide opportunities for consolidation or reorganization for larger private companies and rapid growth for smaller companies.

• “Private equity is not focused on quarterly earnings. Unlike the public markets, which demand favorable quarter to quarter earnings comparisons, private equity has a longer term horizon that focuses on the creation of value. This makes private equity an ideal source of capital for either large or small companies where there is an opportunity to significantly improve economic value, but where the required actions could depress earnings per share growth in the short term.

• “Capital alone is a commodity. Private equity firms are increasingly distinguishing themselves by their ability to provide experienced operating and strategic financial resources to their portfolio companies. IPOs only provide capital, at a cost of significantly increased and costly, tedious and confusing reporting requirements. Gone are the days of private equity firms realizing big gains just by employing leverage and riding the EBITDA multiple cycle.

• “Government regulations make private equity seem like a simple way out. The intense pressure coming from regulatory agencies and the stringent financial requirements that have followed have caused many companies to rethink whether they want to be listed publicly. Tatum also found that many CFOs feel immense amounts of pressure and do not see attractive career alternatives looking forward, with 90 percent saying regulatory pressures have contributed to the increasing turnover rate.”

D’Amaro noted that private equity also offers an alternative to what he called “harsh regulatory restrictions” of public companies.