3i Pulls Plug on Franklin Offshore Stake Sale

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – British private equity firm 3i (III.L) has shelved a plan to sell its majority stake in unlisted Singapore oil services firm Franklin Offshore International after bids for the stake came in below expectations, two sources with knowledge of the deal told Reuters.

3i had received three bids which valued the stake at as much as $250 million, or 5 times EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), but the private equity firm had a higher valuation for the firm, one of the sources said.

The sources declined to be identified because the information is not public.

Sources had told Reuters in April that 3i was looking to sell the stake at about $400 million.

JPMorgan (JPM.N) was advising 3i on the sale, the sources said. Both 3i and JPMorgan declined to comment.

The second source said 3i Group’s recent fund raising also eased pressure to sell assets cheaply. Last month, 3i launched a steeply discounted 732 million pound ($1.2 billion) rights issue

HSBC Private Equity, Actis Capital LLP, Singapore-based Halcyon Investment Corp, and Australian CHAMP private equity were companies eyeing Franklin Offshore, the sources said. None of the companies were available to comment. ($1=.6273 Pound) (Reporting by Saeed Azhar in SINGAPORE, Stephen Aldred and George Chen in HONG KONG; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)