3i Asset Values Rise as Earnings Recover

(Reuters) – Private equity firm 3i Group said the value of its portfolio rose 15 percent last year, as corporate earnings recovered and its stakes were revalued, although high asset prices could stymie new deals.

Net asset value rose to 321 pence at the end of March from 279 pence a year earlier, the British private equity firm said on Thursday. The group reported a total return of 16 percent, turning around a negative return of -56 percent last year.

3i (III.L) shares were up 5.5 percent at 9:10 a.m.

Private equity dealmaking has bounced back in recent months as company earnings have picked up and the availability of credit has improved.

3i invested in two new portfolio companies over the course of the year, including an investment in soft drinks group Refresco, its first deal from its new 1.2 billion euro growth capital fund.

But the group took a cautious approach to new deals, it said, as asset prices were high due to fierce competition from private equity firms with large amounts of capital to deploy.

3i declared a total dividend of 3 pence.

(Reporting by Simon Meads; Editing by Dan Lalor and Simon Jessop)