A123Systems Was Officially the Largest IPO of 2009

One more look back at 2009 — the $371 million IPO of lithium battery maker A123Systems back in late September, was the largest of last year, according to a report from Dow Jones VentureSource. Investors definitely had confidence in the company on September 24, 2009, and that morning A123 Systems’ stock leapt more than 50 percent to close at $20.29 per share after pricing at $13.50 per share.

First off, A123 Systems’ lead makes the IPO prospects for greentech firms, and particularly electric vehicle companies, in 2010 look pretty good. The IPO market in 2009 was still very “anemic,” points out Dow Jones VentureSource. A123 Systems represented about a third of the overall IPO market in 2009 (about $900 million in all of 2009, see graphic below).

A123Systems’ killer IPO could be a good indicator for the success of Tesla, the electric vehicle company, in 2010, if it plans to go public. A Tesla IPO could be the biggest and possibly the first public offering for a U.S. car company since Ford Motor’s IPO more than 50 years ago.

But all greentech isn’t created equal. So it will be interesting to see how much Solyndra, the thin film solar firm, or Codexis, the biocatalyst developer, will be able to raise. Solyndra has certainly been able to raise a ton of money from the private sector — close to $1 billion, the most I’ve ever heard of being raised by a startup.

The other big question for 2010 is: Will the IPO market return considerably? Analysts at Dow Jones VentureSource think so. The researchers note that there are 25 venture-backed companies currently in IPO registration, and that “it is clear that many entrepreneurs and their investors expect the market to improve in the coming year.”

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