Plans for the flotation represent a change of heart for the private equity firm, which had announced that it would sell shares to raise capital a year ago.
The leveraged buyout market has been negatively affected by the credit crunch, with big-money deals drying up due to nervous banks being unwilling to lend large sums.
Accordingly, KKR is to trade on the New York stock exchange from December - and is to receive a market valuation of up to $15 billion.
Commenting on the move to Bloomberg, director of the Center for Private Equity and Entreneurship at Dartmouth College, Colin Blaydon, said: "Having a public security is sufficiently attractive that a firm will do a complex dealâ¦is order to have it."
KKR, one of the foremost names in the private equity sector, was founded in 1976 by cousins Henry Kravis and George Roberts.
The firm owns stakes in a total of 46 companies, which collectively retain 855,000 employees and have $205 billion in annual sales.