In this paper, we pursue a financialisation line of argument exploring the specific features of private equity finance, with a focus on the activity undertaken at scale by the largest management groups or firms. The largest private equity firms wield considerable resources, affect ownership patterns and have the capacity to acquire literally any company. What they do matters. The bankruptcy of Toys R Us and the more general ‘crisis of retail’ illustrate a ‘debt gamble’. A company’s capital structure is radically restructured and equity is reduced and replaced by debt. The gamble is that there will be no change to the external environment that the GP cannot adequately adjust to and that the GP will in fact be able to maintain debt servicing. Although bankruptcy is a ‘worse case’, we contend that from a financialisation perspective, there are a whole set of attendant issues.