3i buyout heads to leave

The departures of David Whileman and Tomas Ekman, managing directors in charge of 3i’s UK and Nordic operations, come after a year of intense restructuring for the firm.

London-listed 3i has lost two of its top buyout executives, it said in a statement Wednesday. 

Tomas Ekman, who heads the firm’s Northern European operations, is to leave at the end of the month. He is to be replaced by Fredrik Karlsson and Mattias Eklund, partners within 3i’s Nordic team, in a move that will see its Nordic team slimmed down from four partners to two.

His departure follows the resignation of David Whileman, managing director in charge of UK private equity investments. Whileman, who became a partner in 1997, is to join a smaller firm focused on minority investing. His role will be filled by Alan Giddins, according to reports. 

Both departing partners recently led successful disposals at the firm, which has been on an exit spree since the beginning of the year. Whileman sold 3i’s minority holding in Hyperion, a UK insurer, to General Atlantic last March, generating a 2.1x return on investment for the firm. Eklund led 3i’s exit from pharmaceutical group Xellia, which was sold to Danish venture firm Novo on a 2.3x in May. 

Another executive, German associate director Daniel Fisher, also resigned last week. 

The resignations come as 3i forges on with its restructuring efforts, initiated after the appointment of Simon Borrows as new chief executive last year. Since then, the firm has reduced headcount by 168 people, closed six offices and worked on cutting debt, which was brought down by 44 percent during the last financial year. 

3i also has sought to assuage investors’ concerns by accelerating realisations, which totalled £565 million (€661 million, $885 million) in the 12 months to 31 March 2013. In addition to Hyperion and Xellia, the firm also exited French calibration business Trescal, IT provider Civica, UK restaurant chain Giraffe, Canadian manufacturer Most-Masters, German engineering business Norma Group and British services group Enterprise earlier this year. 

The firm, which manages close to £12.8 billion of assets, invests off its balance sheet. It has no plans to raise a fund in the coming years, a source close to the matter recently told Private Equity International.