3i explores Brazilian opportunity

The London-listed firm – which is active in Europe, North America and Asia – is now looking to enter the Brazilian market.

3i Group, the listed investment group, is currently weighing-up a move into Brazil, according to Bob Stefanowski, chairman and managing partner for North America and Asia.

Stefanowski was addressing delegates Tuesday at PEI’s Emerging Markets Private Equity Forum 2010 in London.

3i Group, which is headquartered in the UK and listed on the London Stock Exchange, currently has 17 offices across Europe, North America and Asia, but has no presence as yet in Latin America.

The firm is currently conducting a macroeconomic analysis of Brazil, assessing how the firm can apply any of its core competencies in the market and seeing whether the right local team can be recruited.

The most important aspect of the analysis, however, is whether the timing is right, Stefanowski said. “Our biggest question is this: Is it too late?” he asked. “Look at what Advent and others have already achieved.”

Stefanowski also noted a trend towards “specificity” in what LPs are looking for in terms of fund offerings. He said that LPs are less inclined to commit to a global fund – where the GP can decide on regional or country allocations – and are instead more interested in making those geographic decisions themselves. This is one reason 3i is currently setting up an RMB-denominated China fund, he added.

Stefanowski also argued that a single private equity strategy cannot be applied to all markets, juxtaposing the different opportunity sets to be found in China, India, the US and the UK.

“It’s not about driving one private equity strategy into every market,” he said. Buyouts do not work in either China or India, he added, whereas growth capital does. Infrastructure investment, meanwhile, is more of a possibility in India than China.

3i recently underwent a restructuring and acquired a debt management business. It now comprises three distinct business lines: debt management, infrastructure investment and private equity.