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Next Big IPO Market Test: HCA

Next big test of the IPO market comes tonight with HCA: price talk strong. It's the largest non-governmental hospital operator, set to price tonight for trading Thursday morning.

Price talk is 124 million shares at $27-$30 (that's about $3.5 billion), but traders are telling me that this deal is 3 times oversubscribed and price talk is now in the $30-$31 range. (Full story: HCA IPO Likely to Price at Top End, Near $30)

If the deal prices there, that would be truly impressive, since IPOs sometimes falter in times of market volatility like we have been seeing.

There has also been controversy around the significant amount of debt ($28 billion).

This would be the biggest IPO since GM's $15.8 billion IPO last November and the largest private equity LBO ever. Those involved include co-founder Thomas Frist, Jr., Bain Capital, KKR, and Bank America/Merrill Lynch.

The IPO market has not only done well, it has held up well. Look at the other two big deals this year. Nielsen priced at $23 (price talk was $20-$22), is now trading at $27; Kinder Morgan priced at $30, not only was above the price talk of $26-$29 but they sold more shares than anticipated as well. It is now trading just shy of $31.

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  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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