3i Buys More Debt; Fills Open Infrastructure Position

3i Infrastructure Plc (3IN.L), one of the funds vying to buy Gatwick airport, said on Friday it was well-placed to make new investments, and had bought more junior debt since Oct 1.

3i Infrastructure also said Cressida Hogg had been appointed managing partner of infrastructure at 3i Group Plc (III.L), the British private equity firm that is its investment adviser and biggest shareholder.

“With a strong balance sheet, the company is in a good position to take advantage of the attractive infrastructure investment opportunities that we are seeing in the current market,” Peter Sedgwick, chairman of 3i Infrastructure, said in a statement.

“We will, however, continue to invest cautiously in light of ongoing volatility.”

The fund, which has already taken advantage of forced selling by hedge funds to buy 86 million pounds of cheap utility bonds, said it had bought another another 28 million pounds ($39.5 million) of junior debt since Oct. 1.

Hogg succeeds Michael Queen, who replaced longstanding 3i Group CEO Philip Yea on Wednesday, as 3i Group said its big holdings fell 21 percent in value in the quarter to Dec. 31.

One of the founders of 3i’s infrastructure business, she is no relation to 3i Chairman Sarah Hogg.

On Monday a person familiar with the process said a group consisting of 3i Infrastructure and two Canadian pension funds was one of five groups picked to make second-round bids for London’s Gatwick airport [ID:nLR224899].

3i Infrastructure said it had sold its 31 percent stake in Infrastructure Investors LP to a fund managed by Barclays Private Equity for a net 164 million pounds and it had a cash balance of 429 million.

Shares in 3i Infrastructure fell 2.2 percent by 0805 GMT to 88 pence a share.

On Thursday 3i Group shares hit a record low, on fears it may be forced to shore up its finances through a rights issue or by selling assets cheaply. 3i Group shares rose 4.17 percent in early trade on Friday to 218-3/4p a share. ($1=.7087 Pound) (Reporting by Quentin Webb; Editing by David Holmes)