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3i's venture arm sold in 130m deal

LISTED private equity fund 3i Group has sold most of its venture portfolio of smaller-sized European companies to a consortium of rivals, in a transaction that has netted it around &pound;130m.<br /><br />The move is part of 3i chief executive Michael Green&rsquo;s plans to exit the group&rsquo;s so-called venture and small minority investment portfolios as it looks to cut its debts. The debt pile has already been cut from &pound;2.1bn at the end of last year to &pound;961m at end-June, after other sales and a &pound;732m rights issue this year. <br /><br />The group said Coller Capital, HarbourVest and DFJ Esprit have bought the assets, which include The Cloud &ndash; the firm that provides wireless internet access in areas like the City &ndash; and 28 similar investments. <br /><br />Ian Lobley, a partner at 3i and head of the venture portfolio team, described the valuation as &ldquo;good&rdquo;. &ldquo;We are very pleased with this latest sale,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />He said the assets will be run by DFJ Esprit through a new arm called Encore Ventures, and a new fund has already been set up to manage the companies. Coller Capital and HarbourVest Partners will remain the fund&rsquo;s sole investors.