3i sells assets worth £1.1bn

The London-listed private equity group has announced a significant rise in realisation proceeds owing to strong exit activity across its buyouts, growth capital and early-stage investment businesses.

In the 11 months to the end of February, 3i Group, Europe’s largest listed private equity provider with a global office network, has achieved asset sales worth £1.15 billion (€1.66 billion; $2.15 billion), according to figures published yesterday. A year ago, 3i generated proceeds of £807 million during the 11-month period.

Patrick Dunne, head of communications at 3i, emphasised in an interview that the group’s buyout, growth capital and early-stage investment divisions all made significant contributions to last year’s total.

Dunne pointed to the sale of Westminster Healthcare, a buyout investment, the disposal of Pets at Home from 3i’s growth capital portfolio, and the sale of a remaining stake in venture-backed UK technology company Cambridge Silicon Radio as examples of each of the three divisions achieving results on the exit front.

Dunne also said that by taking advantage of benign market conditions, 3i was able to achieve returns on investment through a mix of initial public offerings, trade sales, recapitalisations and secondary buyouts. 12 portfolio companies were floated on seven international stock exchanges including Pinewood Shepperton, the film studios operator.

Proceeds from selling its interest in Travelex to Apax Partners earlier this year were not included in yesterday’s numbers, but will have an effect on the group’s year-end results, which are to be announced on May 12.

Dunne said the group was currently sitting on “surplus cash” and was considering returning parts of it to shareholders. Details of any plans to pay a special dividend or issue new shares will also be announced in May.

In terms of new investment, 3i put out £843 million during the period, slightly up on the £794 million deployed a year ago. Dunne commented that 3i had taken a “highly selective approach to new investment particularly in the reasonably hot mid-market.”