3i cost pruning bears fruit for shareholders

 
Michael Bow
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INVESTORS sent shares in UK private equity group 3i up nearly six per cent yesterday, after strong figures suggested its painful restructuring last year was beginning to pay off.

3i, which is among the UK’s oldest private equity investors, said it made a £5m operating cash profit in the year ending March 2013, reversing an £8m loss in the prior year.

The group, led by chief executive Simon Borrows, also announced a 20p dividend, up form 8.1p last year.

“The operational leakages we have suffered are now a thing of the past,” Borrows said. “This is not just a jam tomorrow story. This is jam today, as well as jam tomorrow.”

3i, whose roots are in a Bank of Eng-land-backed investment board formed in 1945, makes money by buying and selling mid-sized business and has also expanded into debt management and infrastructure investment.

It made £669m by selling companies over the year, including the sale

of insurer Hyperion and fund platform Bestinvest during the past 12 months.

Cost savings were also more than £10m higher than anticipated at £70m, which helped push the firm into the black.

The company started its restructuring programme back in June 2012 and subsequently cut jobs to help reduce its costs.