HomeAway, the world’s leader in online vacation rentals, said it has secured $160 million in debt and equity financing to expand globally — including buying the U.S. “rent-by-owner” vacation rental website, VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

This is a huge amount of money, which suggests it wants to go public. The Austin, Texas company’s announcement is here.

This funding represents the largest financing of an Internet software and services company in the U.S. in 2006, the company said, citing Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ.

Existing investors Austin Ventures and Redpoint Ventures and new investors American Capital (ACAS), Institutional Venture Partners (IVP) and Trident Capital provided the financing. Since being founded in February 2005, HomeAway has raised more than $200 million in capital and has quickly become the worldwide leader for vacation rentals on the Internet.