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HCA, Industry’s Largest IPO, Boosts Bank Fees

Investment banks have made $533 million in underwriting fees on U.S. initial public offerings so far this year, the most they have made since 2005, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The fees, which got a big boost from HCA Holdings Inc.’s $3.8 billion offering this month, are more than fourfold those generated by this time last year, according to the data. Overall IPO activity has been six times better compared with last year, the data showed.

Fees from HCA’s IPO accounted for more than a quarter of all bank fees generated this year at about $137 million, according to the data. In terms of fees, the offering became the biggest since Visa Inc.’s $19.7 billion IPO in 2008.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp.’s Bank of America Merrill Lynch have collected about 30 percent of the fees so far this year. HCA was backed by Bain Capital and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

HCA’s IPO, which included all three banks as underwriters, was the biggest private equity-backed offering in U.S. history. As investors seek riskier investments in improving market conditions, private equity firms that acquired struggling companies during the peak of the credit crunch in 2005 to 2007 are eager to exit their investments.

Private equity-backed IPOs have accounted for 83 percent of all IPO activity so far in 2011, Thomson Reuters data showed.

Since the beginning of 2011, the heating IPO market saw the three biggest U.S. buyout-backed IPOs: HCA, pipeline company Kinder Morgan Inc., backed by The Carlyle Group and Goldman Sachs‘s buyout fund, which raised $2.9 billion, and consumer measurement company Nielsen Holdings—Carlyle, Blackstone Group, KKR, Thomas H. Lee Partners, AlpInvest Partners and Hellman & Friedman—which raised $1.6 billion.

Clare Baldwin is a Reuters correspondent in New York. Alina Selyukh also contributed to this report.