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By Olivia Oran
March 28 (Reuters) - Shares of Pinnacle Foods Inc, owner of the Birds Eye and Duncan Hines brands, rose 13.7 percent in their New York Stock Exchange debut on Thursday.
The stock was trading at $22.73 after the company backed by Blackstone Group LP raised $580 million in its initial public offering.
Pinnacle Foods shares priced at $20, at the top of their expected range of $18 to $20. The IPO values the company at around $2.3 billion.
The Pinnacle Foods IPO is just the latest in a string of public offerings from private equity-backed companies this year as financial sponsors try to sell investments made during the buyout boom of 2006 to 2007.
Parsippany, New Jersey-based Pinnacle Foods, which Blackstone acquired in April 2007, manufactures branded food products in North America and had net sales of $2.5 billion in fiscal 2012.
Besides Pinnacle, other private equity-backed companies that have gone public this quarter include child care operator Bright Horizons Family Solutions Inc, backed by Bain Capital; cruise line operator Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd , backed by Apollo Global Management LLC and TPG; and communications technology company West Corp, backed by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Quadrangle Group.
Other private-equity backed companies lining up go to public later this year include eye care company Bausch & Lomb, technology products retailer CDW Corp, theme park operator Sea World Parks and Entertainment, and testing services company Quintiles Transnational Corp.
Shares of sponsor-backed U.S. IPOs are up 20.5 percent this year, compared with a 14.1 percent rise for all new issues, according to market data firm Ipreo.
Pinnacle Foods is the only major U.S. IPO to price this week as the first quarter draws to a close. U.S. IPO volume rose 65.2 percent to $8.5 billion during the quarter from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Barclays and BofA Merrill Lynch are lead underwriters of the Pinnacle Foods offering.