3i results show move to bigger deals, infrastructure

The global mid-market buyout group has upped its investments in buyout and infrastructure deals, despite a roughly 40 percent fall in the total value of its investments over the past five months. The firm’s realisations also slowed significantly.

3i’s investment in venture and growth capital nearly halved in the five months to 31 August 2008, in line with the firm’s previously announced pledge to move away from early stage investing.

“In these markets, we continue to be highly selective in respect of new investment, rigorous in managing our existing portfolio, and focused on maximising cash to cash returns,” Philip Yea, 3i chief executive, said in a statement.

Philip Yea

The UK-headquartered firm’s venture deals for the five months ended 31 August totalled £22 million (€28 million; $41 million), all of which went into driving growth for existing portfolio companies rather than new investments. The comparable figure for the same period last year was £45 million.

Against a backdrop of slowing activity – the firm invested just £633 million in the last five months representing a 40 percent year-over-year decrease and saw realisations nearly halve to £560 million – its buyout activity marginally increased to £346 million from £339 million.

In August 3i took a 75 percent stake in Mémora Inversiones Funerarias, a division of Spanish conglomerate Accion, in a deal that valued the funeral services chain at €330 million.

Other buyout deals in the period included the £190 million take private of IT group Civica and the €270 million acquisition of Norwegian group Alpharma.

The firm’s investment in infrastructure has also increased, following the launch of its listed infrastructure fund, which raised £115 million through a placing on the London Stock Exchange in June, and the closure of a $1.2 billion infrastructure fund in April.

Earlier this month 3i hired 14-year General Electric veteran Bob Stefanowski to lead its growth capital and infrastructure investment efforts in North America.