Sweet Sixteen: Buyout-Backed IPOs Return –

No Google? No problem.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant still hasn’t graced the public markets with its anticipated $4 billion offering, but plenty of other private equity-backed companies have filled the void.

Sixteen buyout-backed companies filed for IPOs last quarter for an aggregate offering amount of $4.29 billion, including a $750 million filing from Kelso & Co. portfolio company Fairpoint Communications Inc. Meanwhile, 33 venture capital-backed companies filed for an additional $3.45 billion in proposed proceeds.

“This is validation that the [private equity] industry is ready for some sort of return to normalcy,” said Jesse Reyes, vice president and director of research for Thomson Venture Economics (publisher of Buyouts). “However, I’m not sure which is more influential in this surge the abundance of companies ready to exit, or the fact that bankers feel the appetite for new IPOs.”

Perhaps it’s a combination of both, or simply the fact that private equity-backed companies are regularly proving their ability to price offerings.

Thirteen buyout-backed companies debuted on the NYSE or Nasdaq during Q1 2004, for a total of $2.83 billion raised. Leading the way was TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. of Livonia, Mich., which originally had filed to raise just $350 million. Buyer demand, however, upped the ante to a total of $675 million, with half of the proceeds being used to buy back shares from controlling investor The Blackstone Group. The company was trading down last clocked at $22 per share as of market close last Wednesday.

Other large buyout-backed IPO pricings last quarter came from Kinetic Concepts Inc. with a $540 million offering, and Affordable Residential Communities Inc., with a $465.66 million offering.

The private equity market’s largest IPO came from the VC-backed sector, as Chinese chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. netted $1.8 billion.

As of market close last Wednesday, SMI was trading at $15.30 per share, down from its $17.50 per share offering price on March 12. When SMIC closed on a $25 million round of VC funding in late 2002, it was given a post-money valuation of around $2.74 billion. Following its IPO, the company was worth over $6.64 billion. The company’s largest pre-IPO shareholders were government entities, but it also counts Walden International, New Enterprise Associates and H&Q Asia Pacific as investors.

Overall, 13 VC-backed IPOs priced in Q1 2004, for a total take of around $2.72 billion.