3i boosted by manufacturing bounce back

Private equity firm 3i Group said earnings at its portfolio companies grew strongly in the first half, underpinned by a manufacturing recovery and driving an increase in the value of its assets.

The value of the group's portfolio increased to 330 pence a share from 321p at the end March.

Aggregate earnings across 3i's buyouts portfolio grew by eight per cent between March and September, while its growth capital portfolio registered a seven per cent rise, both driven by a recovery in the industrials sector.

In common with large parts of the private equity industry, which has spent much of the last two years protecting its companies from the downturn, 3i said it had made good process in increasing investment.

3i, which recently reshaped its deal teams to hunt for deals by region, increased investments for the six months to the end of September to £327m from £190m a year ago.

The group added French healthcare provider Vedici and calibration and measurement testing group Trescal in the period.

Fierce competition for assets from rival private equity firms and strategic buyers and high prices is also providing a better environment for firms like 3i to sell companies.

3i recently agreed the sale of German gas and diesel engine maker MWM to Caterpillar and is preparing German flexible joints maker Norma Group for a stock market listing.