3i aiming for improved performance in 2002

3i chief executive Brian Larcombe believes the firm’s activity is picking up despite a tough operating environment.

3i, Europe’s largest quoted venture capital firm, believes that conditions for the firm have improved over the course of the first quarter of its financial year despite what many still see as a tough market environment.

Speaking after the firm’s AGM, chief executive Brian Larcombe believed there was some cause for optimism. 'Since the year end, we have seen an active first quarter although there remains a high degree of general business uncertainty as demonstrated in recent weeks by the significant fall in the stock markets.'

During the first quarter, 3i and its co-investment funds invested £240m whilst realising £389m, a very large proportion of which came from the sale of low-cost airline Go to EasyJet for £374m in May this year.

Elsewhere, there were further signs of an upturn in the UK economy – which remains 3i's key market. The Office for National Statistics published data today suggesting that the UK manufacturing sector may have finally come out of recession. The figures suggest that May was the second consecutive month which saw an increase in output, rising 0.7 per cent in May on top of a 1.1 per cent increase in April.