3i to launch US growth capital operation

London-listed global private equity firm 3i has revealed plans to establish a growth capital business in the US.

London-listed 3i confirmed that Robin Marshall, managing director of 3i’s regions business, and Michael Queen, head of growth capital, have recently visited the US scouting opportunities and that the launch of a growth capital-focused office will “definitely occur”, according to a spokesperson.

The spokesperson added that it was still too early to say who will head up the office, where it will be based or how many people will work in the team.

3i currently has venture capital operations running on both the east and west coasts of the US, and it was through these offices that opportunities for growth capital deals had been sourced.

According to the spokesperson, most US investment firms currently focus on buyouts and venture deals, and 3i “will be hoping to fill a gap in the market”. Likely competitors to growth capital initiatives by 3i in the US would include Summit Partners and TA Associates.

Growth capital investments in the US would be made from 3i’s balance sheet, as with all other growth capital investments around the world, the spokesperson added.

In separate news, 3i has completed a €48.5 million ($59 million) management buyout of Spanish chemicals firm Panreac Quimica. The Barcelona-based firm manufactures and supplies chemicals for laboratory research and production. According to 3i, the family-run business currently has a 35 percent market share of the niche chemical sector in Spain and a turnover of €30 million.

Bridgepoint also exited its 66 percent equity stake in the transaction, having invested in Panreac in September 1998 through its Bridgepoint Europe I fund. According to a source close to the deal, Bridgepoint more than doubled its return on its original investment.