* IPO market moved from "abysmal to viable"-trade group
* Last year busiest on record for venture-backed M&A
* Biggest venture-backed IPO in Q4 was FleetCor
By Liana B. Baker
NEW YORK, Jan 3 (Reuters) - The fourth quarter set a decade record for venture capital-backed IPO activity as SinoTech Energy Ltd CTE.O and other Chinese companies sold stock on U.S. exchanges.
Data released on Monday showed 17 Chinese companies funded by U.S. venture capital funds went public in the United States in the fourth quarter, bringing the total number of venture-backed IPOs for the period to 32.
Collectively, the stock sales raised $3.6 billion, about three times the number of venture-backed IPOs in all of 2009, according to a report by the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters.
"In 2010 we moved from 'abysmal to viable' in the venture-backed IPO market," said National Venture Capital Association President Mark Heesen. Deal momentum will continue in 2011, he said, as 42 venture-backed companies have filed for IPOs with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The data, which also showed 2010 was the busiest year on record for venture-backed mergers and acquisitions, showed renewed confidence among dealmakers about the appetite for companies involved in growth areas like technology and in China. Last year, the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose nearly 17 percent.
Of the fourth-quarter's venture-backed IPOs, 20 of the 32 were trading at or above their offering prices on Friday.
FleetCor Technologies (FLT.N), a credit card processing company based in Norcross, Georgia, was the largest venture-backed IPO in the quarter, raising $291.5 million.[ID:nN15132062]
Outside of the technology and life sciences sectors, SinoTech Energy, a Chinese oilfield company, was the largest venture-backed IPO of the quarter, raising $167.8 million. (For more on Chinese IPOs, click [ID:nN12147138]).
More than 400 acquisitions were completed during 2010, the greatest number of venture-backed M&A exits since records began in 1985.
There were 88 venture-backed M&A deals in the quarter, 36 of which had an aggregate value of $5.7 billion.
The information technology sector led venture-backed M&A with 72 deals, mostly involving Internet and computer software companies.
The biggest venture-backed M&A deal of the quarter was HealthSpring Inc's HS.N acquisition of Bravo Health for $545 million. [ID:nSGE67Q0GB] (Reporting by Liana B. Baker; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)