3i Group asset sales fail to show signs of improvement

LISTED private equity giant 3i Group yesterday said the recent rallies in stock markets have not fed through to gains on its assets, in a downbeat trading statement. <br /><br />&ldquo;Despite the recent strong performance of equity markets, the economic outlook is still fragile and private equity and mergers and acquisition markets remain subdued,&rdquo; said chief executive Michael Queen.<br /><br />But the firm confirmed it has made strides into reducing its debt pile, which now stands at &pound;858m compared with &pound;1.9bn at the end of March.<br /><br />This was thanks to an aggressive programme of asset sales and a heavily-discounted &pound;732m rights issue in the summer.<br /><br />3i said its total asset sales over the five months to end-August brought in &pound;448m, and the assets had not risen in value compared to March, when markets hit lows. <br /><br />The group invested just &pound;155m over the period compared with &pound;560m over the same period of 2008, amid the debt-reduction efforts.<br /><br />It added it has secured &pound;350m in the form of two new credit facilities, giving it a total headroom of &pound;586m.