3i hires top rainmaker to boost deals

PRIVATE equity giant 3i headed off investor concerns over its growth and capital use yesterday as it bolstered its team with top City rainmaker Simon Borrows, who joins it as chief investment officer.

3i said it invested £233m in the first quarter of 2011, more than double the amount in the same period in 2010, as it placed £158m into firms such as Go Outdoors.

3i chairman Sir Adrian Montague also defended 3i’s performance at its annual general meeting to placate investors concerned that chief executive Michael Queen preferred to plough capital into new funds in China and India rather than return surplus cash to investors by buying back shares.

“Our priorities have been to ensure that we retain our financial strength, take a measured and highly selective approach to investment, and keep an absolute focus on improving the performance of every aspect of our business,” he said.

About six per cent of investors did not support Queen’s re-election at the AGM vote.

Borrows joins 3i in the autumn from investment bank Greenhill & Co, which he chairs. His move should cheer investors hoping for an uptick in 3i’s performance to rein in an 18 per cent discount between its share price and net asset value. He replaces Ian Nolan, who moves to another role.