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Venture-backed IPOs hit a five-year high in the first quarter

SAN FRANCISCO, April 2 (Reuters) - Underscoring investor appetite for start-ups, venture-capital backed companies held 36 initial public offerings in the first quarter, more than any quarter for at least five years.

The IPOs raised $3.27 billion, more than four times the amount in the first quarter of 2013, according to the National Venture Capital Association. For venture-backed companies, the quarter was one of the strongest in recent years, topped only by periods when outsized IPOs dominated markets.

Those included Twitter Inc, which raised $2.1 billion in November, Facebook Inc's $16 billion in May 2012 and Yandex NV raising $1.3 billion in May 2011. Before that, Google Inc, which raised $1.7 billion in 2004, held the record for the largest venture-backed IPO.

Healthcare-software company Castlight held last quarter's largest venture-backed IPO, raising $204.2 million. Of the 36 offerings, two dozen were life-sciences companies.

The NVCA also said that 105 venture-backed companies were acquired by others. Of the 29 that reported transaction values, the average deal size was $259.2 million.

(Reporting by Sarah McBride. Editing by Andre Grenon)