The image of private-equity investors as patient, long-term nurturers of corporate growth is tarnished by this proposed transaction. It was only last August that Blackstone acquired Orbitz from the financially troubled conglomerate Cendant.

Preliminary offering materials, filed Thursday, indicate that operating losses at Orbitz persist, even as the popularity of online travel booking increases. Blackstone plans to use the proceeds from the proposed IPO to pay down debt, not invest in Orbitz's future.

"Orbitz has grown tremendously in the gross bookings it has been able to produce, but as a profitable business it's very disappointing," said Michael Sklar, a partner with the law firm DLA Piper and president of the Chicago chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth. (Sklar reviewed the Orbitz prospectus at my request.)

"It's a matter of incredible competition from other Internet booking services, plus the squeeze that the hotels and airlines are putting on commissions."

Get the full story at the Chicago Tribune