* Team Health opens at $12, matching IPO price
* Shares up as much as 6.7 pct in early trading
* Team Health trading on NYSE under symbol TMH
* IPO priced low and sold fewer shares than expected (Updates stock activity, adds background)
NEW YORK, Dec 16 - Shares of the latest initial public offering backed by private equity firm Blackstone Group (BX.N) rose nearly 7 percent in their New York Stock Exchange debut after an initally cool reception.
Hospital staffing company Team Health Holdings' (TMH.N) shares traded as high as $12.80 after opening at their IPO price of $12.00. They later were up 4.7 percent at $12.56.
On Tuesday, the Knoxville, Tennessee-based company's stock priced below expectations and sold fewer shares than anticipated. Team Health sold 13.3 million shares, raising about $159.6 million. It had originally expected to sell 20 million shares priced between $14 and $16.
Team Health, which is 92 percent owned by funds affiliated with private equity investor Blackstone, provides staffing and other administrative services to 550 U.S. hospitals, according to a prospectus filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Team Health's net revenue minus a provision for uncollectibles rose 7.5 percent to $1.1 billion in the nine months ended Sept 30, compared with a year earlier. The company's net earnings rose 10.3 percent to $55.2 million in the same period.
Underwriters are led by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs & Co, Barclays Capital, and Citi. If they sell more than 20 million shares of common stock, they have the option to purchase an additional 1.6 million from the company and 1.4 million more from the selling shareholder. (Reporting by Clare Baldwin; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)