3i closes Tokyo office

3i has announced that it is to close its Japanese unit after it completed only one deal since it was set up in 1999.

(PrivateEquityCentral.net) London-based private equity firm 3i is closing its Japanese unit in Tokyo after only completing one deal since the office opened in 1999.

The firm will make Japanese deals out of its Hong Kong office, according to Asia Pulse. Mark Thornton, head of 3i in Tokyo, said the closure was down to a lack of MBO activity.

3i had originally expected to make several deals a year from the office, but its only deal was its 2001 management buyout of distribution Vantec Corp from Nissan Motor for $124.6m.

Fewer companies were looking to leave their parent company than had originally been suspected, said Thornton, adding that big Japanese companies had proved less keen to sell subsidiaries than their US and European conglomerates.

Despite the office closing, 3i has been active in its European operations. In December, the firm backed the management buyout of Spanish ceramic glazes company Esmalglass from its parent Porcelanosa, a ceramic tiles manufacturer, in a deal worth approximately E250m.

In November, the firm completed three deals. It teamed with Veronis Suhler Stevenson to buy TeleMedia, the telephone directories company of Royal KPN, for E500m. It also led a E425m management buyout of SR Technics, the aircraft maintenance unit of failed Swiss flag carrier Swissair. The firm also acquired Rotterdam-based tank container operator United Transport Tankcontainers from United Transport International in a E100m buyout.

3i has invested over $19bn in more than 13,500 companies internationally. The firm began US operations in December 1999, where its investment focus is usually on technology.