3i doubles its investments

3I RAMPED up investments in the final quarter of last year to hit a total of £510m in the last nine months of 2010, the listed private equity firm said yesterday.

The figure was more than double the investment made in the same period in 2009, its interim management statement said.

Buyout deals made up 93 per cent or £472m of that total, up from 35 per cent in the last nine months of 2009.

It also realised £105m from exiting investments in the three months, taking its nine-month total to £398m.

This was about half the £777m realised in the same nine months in 2009, but left out £350m expected from two further exits, of engine maker MWM in October and Hyva in December that have not yet completed. Evolution Securities analyst Bill Barnard said the nature of deal flow meant income from realisations and investments varied considerably from period to period.

“Ultimately this is a game of quality, not quantity,” he said. “3i had a burst of action before Christmas; it is seeing growth coming back after private equity fell off a cliff in 2008 and 2009, but the market remains slow.”

3i spent £183m in the three months to December on deals including buying jewellery supplier Amor Group from Pamplona Capital; Stork Materials Technology from Candover, calibration firm Trescal from Astorg Partners and medical distributor OneMed from Nordic firm CapMan.

3i shares closed 1.15 per cent higher at 317.7p.