* Shares close up 0.3 pct on Nasdaq
* IPO priced at $17/shr vs $16-$18/shr range
* Sold 38.83 mln shares vs 35.3 mln expected (Updates with closing prices)
By Clare Baldwin and Susan Taylor
NEW YORK/OTTAWA, July 15 (Reuters) - Shares of digital whiteboard maker Smart Technologies Inc SMT.O SMA.TO, the biggest U.S. IPO this year, rose in their debut on Thursday after the offering was increased and backers including private equity firm Apax Partners and chipmaker Intel Corp (INTC.O) sold more shares in the company.
Shares of Smart, whose interactive whiteboards allow users to write, project, save and share notes, images and websites, closed at $17.05 on Thursday, 0.3 percent above their $17 initial public offering price.
The stock closed at C$17.80 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Analysts say Smart’s debut could bode well for coming tech initial public offerings.
“Broadly speaking the tech IPO window in Canada has not been wide open, and therefore this is an encouraging sign,” said Duncan Stewart, Deloitte Canada’s director of research in technology, media and telecommunications.
In the United States, Smart Technologies’ IPO is one of the first after a nearly 2-week lull in new issues around the Fourth of July holiday, and comes just before another tech company -- theater projection gear maker RealD Inc RLD.N is set to price.
“People will compare the two,” said Morningnotes.com founder Ben Holmes. “The IPO market trades on velocity. If the deals are faltering the next one will be a tough one.”
Holmes added that RealD, whose technology was featured in the movie “Avatar” and which hopes to raise about $150.5 million in its IPO set to price on Thursday night, is seen as a key way to revive box office sales.
Eighty-five percent of Smart’s revenue came from the education sector in fiscal 2010, according to regulatory filings. Some analysts have warned that the company will need to expand its corporate and government business, which accounted for the remaining 15 percent.
Chief Executive Nancy Knowlton said in an interview with Reuters that she sees growth opportunities among corporate and government clients, but added that Smart could also expand its education business globally and with add-on hardware and software products.
“The world market for interactive whiteboards today is only about 7 percent penetrated, so we see lots of opportunities to fill up classrooms,” she said.
Knowlton said later, in a conference call with reporters, that Smart’s $82 million April acquisition of New Zealand-based NextWindow would allow Smart to grow its optical and touch portfolio.
“Next Window’s patent portfolio, which incudes seven patents and 82 patents pending for optical touch technologies today, will complement and strengthen the Smart existing patent portfolio,” she said.
Smart’s revenue rose 38 percent to $648 million in the year ended March 31. The company swung from a $106.6 million loss to a $142 million profit.
Calgary, Alberta-based Smart Technologies sold 38.83 million shares for $17 each late on Wednesday, raising about $660.11 million. It had planned to sell 35.3 million shares for $16 to $18 each.
The additional shares were sold by Apax and Intel. Husband and wife co-founders David Martin and Nancy Knowlton did not sell any shares.
Smart, which netted about $135 million from the IPO, said it would use proceeds from the offering to repay loans, for working capital and for general purposes, which could include acquisitions.
Smart Technologies is trading on Nasdaq and the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbols “SMT” and “SMA,” respectively. (Reporting by Clare Baldwin in New York and Susan Taylor in Ottawa; Additional reporting by Rodrigo Campos and Leah Schnurr; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Richard Chang)